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Public Forum Debate

(High School and Middle School)


Current Public Forum Debate Topic

Click below for the current monthly Public Forum Debate Topic. * Make sure you find the “Public Forum Debate Topic” and not the “Policy Debate Topic” or the “Lincoln Douglas Debate Topic.” Topics are announced the 1st of the month prior to the month of debate so that students have one month to prepare. Topics are voted by all student and teacher members of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA). Membership in the NSDA is free for all urban debate league member school. Debate topics change every month.

Past Public Forum Debate Topics (Archive)

Resolutions (topics to be debated) change every month. Past and present resolutions include:

  • September/October 2016: Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.
  • April 2016: Resolved: To alleviate income inequality in the United States, increased spending on public infrastructure should be prioritized over increased spending on means-tested welfare programs.
  • March 2016: Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.
  • February 2016: Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.
  • January 2016: Resolved: On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests.
  • December 2015: Resolved: On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States.
  • November 2015: Resolved: In response to the current crisis, a government should prioritize the humanitarian needs of refugees over its national interests.
  • September/October 2015: Resolved: The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans.
  • NSDA Nationals 2015: Resolved: The benefits of First Amendment protection of anonymous speech outweigh the harms.
  • April 2015: Resolved: Committing United States ground combat troops to fight ISIL is in the best interest of the United States.
  • March 2015: Resolved: In the United States, students should be guaranteed two years of free tuition to a community or technical college.
  • February 2015: Resolved: On balance, economic globalization benefits worldwide poverty reduction.
  • January 2015: Resolved: United Nation peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.
  • December 2014: Resolved: For-profit prisons in the United States should be banned.
  • November 2014: Resolved: On balance, the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh the harms.
  • September/October 2014: Resolved: On balance, public subsidies for professional athletic organizations in the United States benefit their local communities.
  • NSDA Nationals 2014: Resolved: NATO should strengthen its relationship with Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression.
  • April 2014: Resolved: Prioritizing economic development over environmental protection is in the best interest of the people of India.
  • March 2014: Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.
  • February 2014: Resolved: The Supreme Court rightly decided that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act violated the Constitution.
  • January 2014: Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa (As defined by the OECD).
  • December 2013: Resolved: Immigration reform should include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
  • November 2013: Resolved: The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms.
  • September/October 2013: Resolved: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.

NOTE: The Board of Directors chose to start with a 2-month topic then revert to the monthly topics in order to help novices learn and improve their skills

  • NFL Nationals 2013: Resolved: The benefits of American drone strikes against foreign targets outweigh the harms.
  • NCFL Grand Nationals 2013: Resolved: The main goal of US public education should be to eliminate racial and economic achievement gaps.
  • April 2013: Resolved: The continuation of current U.S. anti-drug policies in Latin America will do more harm than good.
  • March 2013: Resolved: The U.S. government should not require its citizens to have health insurance.
  • February 2013: Resolved: On balance, the rise of China is beneficial to the interests of the United States.
  • January 2013: Resolved: On balance, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission harms the election process.
  • December 2012: Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.
  • November 2012: Resolved: Current U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East undermines our national security.
  • October 2012: Resolved: Developed countries have a moral obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • September 2012: Resolved: Congress should renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
  • NFL Nationals 2012: Resolved: Stand Your Ground laws are a legitimate expansion of the doctrine of self-defense.
  • April 2012: Resolved: State mandated administration of childhood vaccinations is justified.
  • March 2012: Resolved: The United States should suspend all assistance to Pakistan.
  • February 2012: Resolved: Birthright citizenship should be abolished in the United States.
  • January 2012: Resolved: The costs of a college education outweigh the benefits.
  • December 2011: Resolved: In the United States, current income disparities threaten democratic ideals.
  • November 2011: Resolved: Direct popular vote should replace electoral vote in presidential elections.
  • October 2011: Resolved: Private sector investment in human space exploration is preferable to public sector investment.
  • September 2011: Resolved: The benefits of post-9/11 security measures outweigh the harms to personal freedom.
  • NFL Nationals 2011: Resolved: That the United States should intervene in another nation’s struggle for democracy.
  • NCFL Grand Nationals 2011: Resolved: In a democracy rights created by legislation are preferable to rights created by the judiciary.
  • April 2011: Resolved: The United States federal government should permit the use of financial incentives to encourage organ donation.
  • March 2011: Resolved: North Korea poses a more serious threat to United States national security than Iran.
  • February 2011: Resolved: Wikileaks is a threat to United States national security.
  • January 2011: Resolved: In the United States, plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system.
  • December 2010: Resolved: Cyberbullying should be a criminal offense.
  • November 2010: Resolved: High school Public Forum Debate resolutions should not confront sensitive religious issues.

NOTE: The resolution used to be: Resolved: An Islamic cultural center should be built near Ground Zero. Due to much controversy, the NFL changed the topic to the one above within 24 hours.’s blog posts and ensuing comments document the responses to both.

  • October 2010: Resolved: NATO presence improves the lives of Afghan citizens.
  • September 2010: Resolved: Allowing deep water offshore oil drilling is in the best interest of the United States.
  • NFL Nationals 2010: Resolved: Current trends in American political dialogue compromise meaningful democratic deliberation.
  • NCFL Grand Nationals 2010 Resolved: That the constitutional right of freedom of religion has wrongly evolved into freedom from religion.
  • April 2010 Resolved: On balance, government employee labor unions have a positive impact on the United States.
  • March 2010: Resolved: Affirmative action to promote equal opportunity in the United States is justified.
  • February 2010: Resolved: In the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good.
  • January 2010: Resolved: President Obama’s plan for increasing troops in Afghanistan is in the United States’ best interest.
  • December 2009: Resolved: That merit pay based on student achievement should be a significant component of K-12 teacher compensation in United States public schools.
  • November 2009: Resolved: Failed nations are a greater threat to the United States than stable nations.
  • October 2009: Resolved: When in conflict, the United Nations should prioritize global poverty reduction over environmental protection.
  • September 2009: Resolved: United States policy on illegal immigration should focus on attrition through enforcement rather than amnesty.
  • NFL Nationals 2009: Resolved: That the United States should normalize relations with Cuba.
  • NCFL Grand Nationals 2009: Resolved: A society has an obligation to ensure adequate health care for its citizens.
  • April 2009: “Resolved: That the Employee Free Choice Act serves the best interests of the American people.”
  • March 2009: “Resolved: That, on balance, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has improved academic achievement in the United States.”
  • February 2009: “Resolved: That, on balance, the rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) has had a positive impact on the United States.”
  • January 2009 “Resolved: That, by 2040, the federal government should mandate that all new passenger vehicles and light trucks sold in the United States be powered by alternative fuels.”
  • December 2008: “Resolved: That, on balance, social networking Web sites have had a positive impact on the United States.”
  • November 2008: “Resolved: That the United States government should implement universal health care modeled after the French system.”
  • October 2008: “Resolved: That the United States should significantly increase its use of nuclear energy.”
  • September 2008: “Resolved: That the United States should implement a military draft.”
  • NFL Nationals: “Resolved: US policies established after September 11, 2001 have substantially reduced the risk of terrorist acts against the United States.”
  • NCFL Grand Nationals: “Resolved: That the US Government should increase social services for indigenous peoples in America.”
  • April 2008: “Resolved: That the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 will successfully mitigate economic slowdowns over the next year.”
  • March 2008: “Resolved: The US system of presidential primaries is contrary to democratic values.”
  • February 2008: “Resolved: That Russia has become a threat to U.S. interests.”
  • January 2008: “Resolved: In a democracy, civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice.”
  • December 2007: “Resolved: That the United States would be justified in pursuing military options against Iran.”
  • November 2007: “Resolved: That eliminating United States government budget deficits should be prioritized over increasing domestic spending.”
  • October 2007: “Resolved: That the United States should encourage the implementation of a soft partition of Iraq.”
  • September 2007: “Resolved: That the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated.”
  • NFL Nationals: “Resolved: That the private ownership of handguns should be banned in the United States.”
  • NCFL Grand Nationals: “Resolved: The President and Vice President of the United States should be elected by a direct vote of the American citizens.”
  • April 2007: “Resolved: United States corporations should honor all prior commitments to employee pensions.”

Public Forum Debate Student Resources

Click below to access public forum debate resources. We would like to thank our incredible varsity debaters who have helped to develop these resources. Thank you to specifically to Aniket Mukherji (Collegiate School) and Amala Karri (Hunter High School). We also thank the National Association for Speech and Debate, National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, National Debate Coaches Association, and so many other supporters of urban debate. If you are interested in helping to develop our student resource section, especially if you are a student, please complete our internship application, by clicking here.

Public Forum Debate Teacher Resources

Click below for the best of the best topic resources for each month’s public forum debate topic, curriculum, activities, handouts and more! This content is only accessible to member school teachers, so please make sure you have completed the school registration form and are an active member in the New York City Urban Debate League. Thank you to all our partners for making this content possible.