Greg Rehmke, director of educational programs for Economic Thinking/E Pluribus Unum Films, shows examples of the coverage given to African affairs by American magazines as he speaks to debate workshop participants in Traverse City.
Mackinac Center for Public Policy concluded its 20th
annual High School Debate Workshop in late September, hosting more than 450
students and teachers from nearly 30 schools.
Students heard from three national speakers on this year’s
topic, "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially
increase its public health assistance to sub-Saharan Africa." The workshops are
designed to help the students prepare to argue both for and against the given
topic in debate competitions throughout the country, involving more than 100,000
Workshops this year were held in Livonia, Adrian, Grand
Rapids and Traverse City, drawing a mix of conventional public, charter public,
parochial and independent schools. Speakers included Greg Rehmke, director of
educational programs for Economic Thinking/E Pluribus Unum Films; Mike Winther,
a former high school and college debater and now a debate coach; and Dr. Rich
Edwards, professor of communication studies and debate coach at Baylor
The speakers addressed debate methodology and tactics, as
well as discussing the economic impact of foreign aid and how well it has been
put to use in the past. Points that students discussed during the workshops
included research on how foreign aid is often misappropriated by dictatorial
governments, methods of disease prevention that have proven successful in the
past (such as the use of DDT to fight malaria) and the moral arguments against
coercing taxpayers into funding foreign aid when nonprofit groups raise money
from willing donors.
High schools that participated in the workshops were: Conner
Creek Academy, Saginaw Heritage, Livonia Stevenson, Heart Academy, Brother Rice,
Henry Ford, Northville, Hudson, Lenawee Christian, Adrian, Blissfield, South
Christian, Holt, Grand Rapids City, Zion Christian, Grand Rapids Catholic
Central, Northview, North Hills Classical Academy, Forrest Hills, Unity
Christian, Frankfort, Bellaire, Traverse City Central, Traverse City West,
Petoskey, Gaylord and East Jordan.
The Center asks each participant to fill out evaluation forms
in order to improve the workshops from one year to the next. One student,
although just a beginner, wrote that she learned so much from the experience, "I
feel like I am confident enough to go to the state finals."
Another student said she appreciates the workshops because
she feels high school debate is "underappreciated" and "it’s nice to have an
activity that supports the activity."
JoAnne Peterson, debate coach from Grand Rapids City High
School, said although the workshop will help her team in the upcoming season,
"The impact on the future and investment in our young people is the most
powerful gift of all."
For the third consecutive year, workshop participants have an opportunity to
win a $1,000 college scholarship if they choose to participate in an essay
contest sponsored by the Center. Winners will be announced in the spring of