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Middle School Tournament Results (2/4/17)

Our last regular season middle school tournament of the school year! 32 schools, 306 students, 151 judges! Thank you everyone for making this tournament possible. Thank you to Midwood High School for hosting!  Thank you to everyone for making this tournament such a... read more

Why Debate

Principal Testimonials “When you think about a great high school experience, you think about a student competing on a debate team, or a robotics team, or in a Google science fair context, while having a great course of study. Those things exist in our society... read more

Elementary School Tournament Results!

Thank you so much to Erin Jacques, Tyler Beattie, PS 11, and Alain Beugoms for making this tournament possible! The topic for the tournament was “This House would implement year-round school.” Thank you everyone for an incredible day and we cannot wait to... read more
Brooklyn Borough Champions!

Brooklyn Borough Champions!

On Thursday, April 21st we celebrated with the first Brooklyn Championships at Borough Hall! Congratulations to all participating teams. Thank you to Debra Newman, coach, teacher and former lawyer for making this event possible!  Congratulations to our semifinalists... read more




Our History

In 2011, there were less than five schools in Brooklyn with competitive debate teams. This was an educational travesty because Brooklyn if counted as a city would be the third largest city and school system in the United States. The mission of the Brooklyn Debate League is that every school in Brooklyn should have a debate team and every student should have access to the best debate education opportunities.  Thanks to support from the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Council our program is free for Title I schools in Brooklyn.

Why Debate

“Competitive debate is one of the great equalizers of educational opportunity.  In a number of respects, competitive urban debate is uniquely suited to building what’s been called the ‘Four C’s’ of 21st century skills—critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. And to that list I might add a fifth ‘C’— for civic awareness and engagement.” – US Secretary of Education honoring our debaters in Washington DC.  Our debaters won 1st in the nation and visited the White House to meet the President.

Through independent peer-reviewed research we know that urban debate prepares students to succeed in school and in life.

90% of urban debaters graduate on time.

72% of urban debaters with the highest risk of dropping out graduate on time.

Each semester that a student debates, his/her grades will improve.

At graduation, the average GPA of an urban debater is 3.23, significantly above the college readiness benchmark.

Debaters are more likely to test as college ready.

After graduating from high school, 86% of urban debaters enroll in college.

Urban debaters are 80% more likely to graduate from college.

Urban debate prepares students for twenty-first century careers.

Our Accomplishments

Brooklyn is home to some of the most successful debate teams in the United States.   ACORN Community High School won 1st place at the National Association of Urban Debate League’s National Championship.  KIPP Academy won top awards at the National Middle School Debate Championship – the largest academic competition in the world. Brooklyn Tech High School and ACORN Community High School have won numerous city, regional, state and national debate titles including qualifying debaters to the nation’s most prestigious debate tournament – the Tournament of Champions. Brooklyn Tech also was a Finalist in the International Debate Championships as well.

Interscholastic Debate Program

Our interscholastic debate program or after school debate program supports school based debate teams. We provide monthly tournaments, workshops, professional development, and any other support to start and sustain successful debate teams. We work with the following schools: All City High School, Benjamin Banneker High School, Frederick Douglas Academy, KIPP Academy, Berkeley Carroll, Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, Excellence Boys Charter School, J.H.S. 302 Rafael Cordero, Hunters Point Community, MS 318

Curricular Debate Programming

In partnership with the Middle School Quality Initiative we work with schools to implement debate across the curriculum in every subject area.  These schools include: Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, J.H.S. 050 John D. Wells, Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, P.S. 157 Benjamin Franklin, I.S. 318 Eugenio Maria De Hostos, J.H.S. 088 Peter Rouget, J.H.S. 057 Whitelaw Reid, P.S. 308, Clara Cardwell, School of Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship, Upper School @ P.S. 25, M.S. 246 Walt Whitman, I.S. 340, M.S. K394, I.S. 211 John Wilson, The Science and Medicine Middle School, East Flatbush Community Research School, Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies, I.S. 30 Mary White Ovington, J.H.S. 062 Ditmas, I.S. 096 Seth Low, J.H.S. 014 Shell Bank, P.S. 109, Andries Hudde, Brownsville Collaborative Middle School, Kappa V

Brooklyn Debate Tournaments

Our core program are monthly Saturday tournaments.  We provide at least three rounds of debate competitions, workshops, breakfast, lunch and an awards ceremony for all students.

Brooklyn Summer Debate Institute

Our debate program is year round. During the summer we offer a free summer debate institute for students.  Our Debate Institute offers a rigorous curriculum of public speaking, research, rhetoric, current events, and public policy. Mornings include lectures on debate skills and topics and afternoons are devoted to small lab groups to practice debate skills.  The debate institute culminates with a summer debate tournament.

Brooklyn Travel Debate Team

We also support travel scholarships for the top high school debaters. This allows students the opportunity to travel and compete at some of the top tournaments on the East Coast including Harvard University, Yale University, and other out of state and national tournaments.

Brooklyn Outreach

We have a program director and outreach staff who visit schools to help train teachers who are new to debate and start and sustain successful debate programs.

New York City Urban Debate League Citywide Programs

All our programs throughout the city are available for all students.  We offer tournaments nearly every weekend, workshops and Debate Nights every month, citywide debate invitationals, summer debate institutes in each borough, the New York City Debate Championships, and other debate opportunities year round.


September: Season Kick Off Workshop (Achievement First High School)

October: Brooklyn Tournament #1 (Berkeley Carroll)

November: Brooklyn Tournament #2 (ACORN Community HS)

December: Brooklyn Tournament #3 (Hunters Point Community Middle School)

January: All City Fall Championships (Brooklyn Tech High School)

February: Brooklyn Tournament #4 (Berkeley Carroll)

March: Battle of the Boroughs Tournament (Bronx Science High School)

April: Brooklyn Borough Championships (KIPP Academy AMP)

May: City Championships (Institute for Collaborative Education)

Summer: Brooklyn Summer Debate Institute

Brooklyn Interscholastic Debate Schools

ACORN Community High School

Achievement First Bushwick Middle School

All City High School 

Benjamin Banneker High School

Berkeley Carroll

Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies

Excellence Boys Charter School

Frederick Douglas Academy

J.H.S. 302 Rafael Cordero 

Hunters Point Community

KIPP Academy

MS 318


Brooklyn MSQI Debate Schools

Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts

J.H.S. 050 John D. Wells

Juan Morel Campos Secondary School

P.S. 157 Benjamin Franklin

I.S. 318 Eugenio Maria De Hostos

J.H.S. 088 Peter Rouget

J.H.S. 057 Whitelaw Reid

P.S. 308 Clara Cardwell

School of Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship

Upper School @ P.S. 25

M.S. 246 Walt Whitman

I.S. 340

M.S. K394

I.S. 211 John Wilson

The Science and Medicine Middle School

East Flatbush Community Research School

Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies

I.S. 30 Mary White Ovington

J.H.S. 062 Ditmas

I.S. 096 Seth Low

J.H.S. 014 Shell Bank

P.S. 109

Andries Hudde

Brownsville Collaborative Middle School

Kappa V

Brooklyn Debate League on the Radio

Brooklyn Debate League in the News

Obama Helps Coach Brooklyn High School Debate Team (9/25/14)
Crown Heights Charter School Travels to National Debate Tournament (6/17/13)
Debating Transportation (1/17/13)
Students Use Debate to Master the Issues (11/24/12)
ACORN Community HS Competes in State Debate Tournament (4/23/11)
Champion Debate Team Rejects City’s Verdict (6/21/10)
Debate Team Helps Black Students Find Their Voice (12/15/09)
Kidneys Fail - True Friend Comes Through (1/21/08)
Revenge of the Nerds (11/1/2006)
Little HS Big on Words, ACORN, Takes 4th Place in Debate Tournament (4/30/04)
Urban Squad Excels in the Art of Argument (6/2000)
Students Making a Point: Debate Team Eyes Tournament (4/4/2000)

Why Brooklyn?

The 4th Largest “City” in America
With nearly 2.6 million residents, Brooklyn is NYC’s largest and fastest growing borough.

Brooklyn Is Larger than Boston, Atlanta, Washington DC & Minneapolis Combined
It has more African Americans than Atlanta, more people with college degrees than Boston, more people living in poverty than Detroit, and more wealthy people than Greenwich.

Brooklyn Ranks Third in the State in Income Inequality
One in five Brooklyn households has a median income of over $100,000 per year—twice as many as a decade before—while one in five receives food stamp benefits.

Nearly 1 in 4 Brooklyn Residents Lives in Poverty
Brooklyn ranks first in NYC in total number of children living in poverty. Five of the 10 poorest NYC census tracts are in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Has the Most Units of Public Housing in New York City
There are 100 NYCHA developments with 58,669 apartments in Brooklyn. Brownsville has the highest concentration of public housing in the nation.

Over 30% of Renters Spend More than Half of Their Income on Rent
In 2011, 3,319 Brooklyn families entered NYC homeless shelters.

Over 1/3 of Residents were Born in another Country
Nearly 50% of all households speak a language other than English at home.

1 in 5 Residents over 25 Does Not Have a High School Diploma
30% of residents over 25 have a bachelors degree or higher.

3,000 Brooklyn Residents a Year Are Admitted to Prison at a Projected Cost
of over $300 Million

(Source: Brooklyn Community Foundation)