Alternative energy subsidies: Yes or no?

High schoolers prep for debate season at MCCP workshops

Mike Winther and students
Mike Winther, a debate coach and frequent lecturer, talks to high school students about arguments for and against alternative energy subsidies. This event, at Grand Valley State University, was one of four debate workshops hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy throughout Michigan. Winther, of Modesto, Calif., is a member of the MCCP Board of Scholars.

An assembly of powerful speakers and enthusiastic students took part in the Mackinac Center's 21st annual High School Debate Workshops recently. The topic, "Resolved: The United States Federal Government Should Substantially Increase Alternative Energy Subsidies in the Unites States," drew questions and prompted discussions about clean coal, nuclear plants, electric cars, climate change, biofuels and solar power.

More than 475 students took part in the workshops, held over four consecutive days in Livonia, Adrian, Grand Rapids and Traverse City. High school students attended from: Richmond, Universal Academy, Faith Baptist, Saginaw Heritage, Adrian, Blissfield, Onsted, Lenawee Christian, Hudson, Forest Hills Central, Zion Christian, Kenowa Hills, Caledonia, Grand Rapids City, Lowell, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Holt, Northville, Traverse City Central, Traverse City West, McBain, Petoskey, Gaylord, Cadillac and Bellaire.

Greg Rehmke
Debate workshop speaker Greg Rehmke, editor of, has published resource books, study guides and newsletters on the economic aspects of numerous high school debate topics.

Nearly 9,000 students, teachers and coaches have participated in the Center's workshops since 1988, gaining insight and knowledge about each year's debate topic, as well as tips on research, affirmative and negative arguments and how the issues play a role in an expanding global market.

Students attending the workshops are invited to participate in an essay contest on the topic and win one of four $1,000 college scholarships.

In written comments, teachers and students said they valued the workshop series.

"Because of this workshop, I know I will have a much more successful debate season," wrote Molly Tompkins of Traverse City Central High School.

Nick Kloka, debate coach and English teacher at Saginaw Heritage, wrote, "I have brought my students to this event for several seasons now, and as a teacher I am never disappointed." Students from Kloka's program won scholarships after both the 2006 and 2007 workshops.

Speakers again this year were Dr. Rich Edwards, a communications professor and debate coach at Baylor University, Texas; Greg Rehmke, editor of and a frequent writer and lecturer on debate topics; and Mike Winther, a frequent lecturer and debate coach from Modesto, Calif.