The Mackinac Center for Public Policy's 15th Annual High School Debate Workshops provided over 400 students and coaches with information from nationally renowned experts on mental health policy and debate.
Should the United States substantially increase public health
services for mental health care? Is a mental illness the same as a physical
illness? Should drug treatment be required in place of prison sentences for
criminal drug offenders?
These are just a few of the questions tackled at the Mackinac
Center for Public Policy's 15th Annual High School Debate Workshops,
held this fall in Grand Rapids, Jackson, Livonia, and Midland.
Expert speakers from around the country provided over 400
students and coaches from public, charter, and private schools around the state
with information on the 2002 high school debate topic, "Resolved: That the
United States federal government should substantially increase public health
services for mental health care in the United States."
The annual debate topic, which is debated by over 100,000
students across the country, is selected each January by committees of state and
national debate officials representing the National Federation Interscholastic
Speech & Debate Association.
Students in Grand Rapids and Midland learned debate
techniques from Dr. Richard Edwards, member of the national topic selection
committee; Gregory Rehmke, director of the New York-based Foundation for
Economic Education's (FEE) High School Speech and Debate Program; June Arunga,
research intern at the Foundation for Economic Education; and Dr. Jeffery
Schaler, a psychologist and adjunct professor of justice, law, and society at
American University's School of Public Affairs.
Debate workshops in Grand Rapids and Midland featured
Edwards, Rehmke, and Gary Leff, a former California state championship debate
Students grappled with a host of topics including drug and
alcohol addiction, Ritalin use, insanity, domestic violence, mental health
patient privacy rights, and whether government should play a role in health-care
English teacher Jesse Nardizzi, first-year debate coach for
Goodrich High School, offered praise for the program.
"[Today] I witnessed 50 ninth through 12th graders
from different Michigan communities learning debate, challenging their thoughts,
making them think beyond mere opinion ... watching students and ... thanks to
you ... future leaders grow," Nardizzi wrote in a thank you letter to Mackinac
"This program is a great experience! This was my second year
coming, and each time I receive a lot of great information," wrote Ashley
Gonzalez, a student at Adrian High School.
Over 15 years, Mackinac Center High School Debate Workshops
have equipped nearly 7,500 debaters with winning ideas, generating a ripple
effect that has extended to all areas of the education community.
Southwestern High School (Detroit), the 1993 Detroit Public
School Debate League champion, and Calvary Baptist Academy (Midland), winner of
the 1996 American Association of Christian Schools' debate championship, both
applied ideas and techniques learned at the Center's workshops.
And, nearly 600 Michigan home school students benefited from
a recent program coordinated by former high school debate coach and workshop
attendee Wanda Burdick. Burdick, co-founder of
TeenWorks.net, a Michigan-based
organization designed to provide tutoring assistance to home schooling families,
planned the workshop in conjunction with the Michigan Home School Forensic
League and invited Rehmke and Arunga to speak at the event.
The debate workshops are held every fall and are open to
public, private, and charter school students from around the state.
For more information, visit the Mackinac Center Web site at