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Click below for the link to the Current National Debate Topic page of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA). Membership is free for NYCUDL schools. All teachers and students can vote on the national topics. Our middle school and high school public forum debate divisions follows the national public forum debate topic of the NSDA.  Our high school policy debate division follows the national policy debate topic of the NSDA. The only exception is our middle school parliamentary debate division in which coaches vote for the topics.


Offers students a unique opportunity to develop on-their-feet critical thinking skills by providing an experience similar to an presidential debate. Topics change monthly, giving students exposure to a wide range of important issues.  Public Forum involves opposing teams of two, debating a topic concerning a current event. Proceeding a coin toss, the winners choose which side to debate (PRO or CON) or which speaker position they prefer (1st or 2nd), and the other team receives the remaining option. Students present cases, engage in rebuttal and refutation, and also participate in a “crossfire” (similar to a cross examination) with the opportunity to question the opposing team.  Often times community members are recruited to judge this event.

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.


Allows students to focus on a single debate topic each year; thereby becoming “subject-matter- experts.” Topics typically call for a policy change by the U.S. government.  A two-on-two debate that focuses on a policy question for the duration of the academic year, this format tests a student’s research, analytical, and delivery skills. Policy debate involves the proposal of a plan by the affirmative team to enact a policy, while the negative team offers reasons to reject that proposal. Throughout the debate, students have the opportunity to cross-examine one another. A judge or panel of judges determines the winner based on the arguments presented.

Policy Debate Student Resources

Thank you to the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues, sister Urban Debate Leagues, National Speech and Debate Association, and the National Debate Coaches Association for making these resources possible for students.


Challenges students by having them debate multiple topics at each tournament. These topics change every round and include impromptu debates. Parliamentary Debate is a unique and dynamic form of debate, unlike any other practiced in the United States.  This highly interactive style of debate allows debaters to engage each other, even during speeches. This challenging format requires good teamwork and in-depth quality argumentation.