C&C Debate: An Extracurricular Injustice

March 8, 2019

 

The mission statement on C&C’s website proclaims: “We strive to create a vital school community that supports each child’s innate passion for learning while also expanding his or her understanding of communities and cultures that exist beyond school and home.” However, currently C&C does not support the passions of each of their students equally. C&C is not inclusive because the school offers students a fully funded sports program but does not fund any non-physical, competitive alternatives.

 

As an activity, debate is similar to physical sports. It promotes teamwork, practice, attendance at competitions, and good sportsmanship. However, it is different than physical sports because students with physical disabilities or injuries can participate in debate and it allows students with no interest in physical sports to still enjoy teamwork and represent their school competitively.  

 

Debate widens C&C students’ experience and understanding of themselves as learners. Skills developed in debate help students structure essays, organize their work, and conduct research efficiently. Actively debating in organized classes and in tournaments gives students the confidence to raise their hands in class, participate in discussions and get their unique voices heard. Debate trains students to listen effectively and it improves critical thinking skills. Debate also teaches rhetoric, the art of persuasive speaking, which helps people get what they want and solve problems.

 

The C&C sports program is fully funded for grades X-XIII, and any student can sign up to participate in soccer, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee teams or join the running club. There are age segregated teams for all of these sports (except running) and there are multiple two-hour practices and games each week for all of them during the season. There are paid coaches for each of these teams plus full equipment, transportation, uniforms, participant medals, and pizza parties.

 

In contrast, debate receives zero funding from C&C and the schools from this Add-In! Participants in a 1 hour 45 minute weekly debate class have to pay the school $1280 per year to join debate as an Add-In. Students need to ask their parents to enroll and pay each term and, if classes are full, they have to join a waitlist. Paid debate classes are comprised of a mix of students from X-XIIIs, which can make the classes uncompetitive due to the large age and experience difference. Parents of debaters also have to provide transportation to tournaments and have to undergo training, then work as judges, otherwise teams cannot compete as the Add-In program only sends one coach.

 

C&C should finance and encourage participation in a debate program that is open to the Xs-XIIIs, starting Spring term 2018/19. Every student should be actively encouraged to learn and practice debate skills (research and public speaking) in organized lessons after school and to competitively represent C&C in tournaments in a debate league for Middle School students.

 

In June 2018, I presented to Michele Bloom (MS/US Division Director) and Natalie Joseph (Director of Auxiliary Programs) regarding this serious extracurricular injustice and asked for debate to be funded. I could not get a meeting with Scott Moran (Principal) last June so I emailed my presentation to him. Since then I have not received any formal response to my proposal and debate remains unfunded. This is incredibly disappointing and it sends a strong message to me and other C&C students that the administration values sports but not academics and that the school does not treat all students equally.

C&C is a progressive institution and should adapt to the needs of its community. Less than ten years ago the sports program was first funded by the school in response to parent and student lobbying. There is strong demand for debate now and an injustice is clearly occurring: Why has C&C’s administration not taken action and funded debate?

 

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