High School Debate 2017/2018

Welcome, high school debaters and coaches! By participating in forensics, you are upholding one of our nation’s oldest and most cherished traditions – the right to free speech in a free society. When we debate with vigor and skill, we let the best ideas rise to the top for the benefit of our nation and world. Our goal is to help you pursue that goal by providing resources to help you become better debaters and also to help you explore the topics that are included in the 2017/2018 Public Forum and Policy Debate seasons. We are pleased to be working with longtime expert and debate coach Greg Rehmke of Economic Thinking.

Also, please be sure to check out the FREE online workshop below, offered to you at no charge due to a generous donor to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Questions or comments? Please feel free to contact Lorie Shane at the Mackinac Center at 989-698-1909 or shane@mackinac.org.

🎉 Fresh material is added weekly, so check back often!

Interested in FREE Debate Training?

Economics in a Cloud is hosting an online workshop covering this year’s federal education policy debate. Led by Gregory F. Rehmke, this workshop includes free articles, video and book recommendations, plus live Skype sessions with Greg.

To access this at no charge (a $15 value!), use this code: MCPP2018 Click here to register for a FREE online debate workshop with additional resources

Gregory F. Rehmke, a Mackinac Center Board of Scholars member, is editor of www.EconomicThinking.org and program director for Economic Thinking. He has directed high school speech and debate programs since the 1980s. Rehmke has directed educational programs at the Free Enterprise Institute, The Reason Foundation and the Foundation for Economic Education.

This is the fifth video in Gregory Rehmke's series. It's also available in PDF format.

How to be a Better Debater

How to Improve Fluency and Clarity in Speaking

I’ve developed a list of 5 ways you can improve your speaking. This post will focus on both impromptu skills and general ways to improve your eloquence and rhetoric. For those of you who are still debating... It’s a great time to work on your speaking, something that you will take with you far beyond the time you will spend debating in high school or college.

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Hearts Over Minds #2: The Fairness Debate

In my last post, we covered that in order to be effective communicators, not only must we cater to the audience’s mind, but to the audience’s heart. Let’s apply this to a specific example: fairness. In short, not only must you win the flow, you must win on “fairness.”

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Start with Why

You may be wondering why it’s so important to establish true positions on seemingly trivial arguments. And yes, these arguments might not matter after you end your last debate round in high school or college. However, for current debaters, learning the foundational truths behind these arguments make you a more logical and therefore more persuasive debater.

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Manners Maketh the Man

Aristotle proposed that there are three components of effective persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Ethos is arguably the most essential, emphasizing the importance of persuasion through character. According to Aristotle, “We believe fair minded people to a greater extent and more quickly than we do others.” There are, in turn, three elements that make up Ethos: good sense, good character, and goodwill. Many debaters get hung up on the first one—they want to appear credible and confident—but they shortchange the character part. According to Aristotle’s idea of ‘good character’ (arete), you need to cultivate virtues in yourself that will then be manifested in your interactions with other people.

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Why You Should Debate in the NSDA

As a four-year competitor in the NSDA, I’d like to inform you about the league, highlight what I feel are its high and low points, and encourage those who’d like to compete in another league that doing so will greatly benefit their public speaking and prepare them for the “real-world.”

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Policy Debate Topic

NEW: Welcome to High School. Now Go to College.

Higher dual-enrollment as h.s. students gain college credit: "some states posting stunning growth in response to...legislative directives to increase...educational attainment..”

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NEW: Lawsuit Challenges California Law Criminalizing Teaching Trade Skills

Should a high school degree be mandatory before enrolling in a trade school? Letting young people learn trade skills before graduating expands opportunities for those struggling in school. "By denying students’ right to a quality education in a profession of their choice, California’s prerequisite education law hurts the very students it was intended to help.”

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NEW: The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids: Today’s Young children Are Working More, But They’re Learning Less

Study strongly support the benefits of play for young children. And do not support expanding classroom time and exercises for young children. "Preschool classrooms have become increasingly fraught spaces, with teachers cajoling their charges to finish their “work” before they can go play.”

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NEW: The Play Deficit: Children Today are Cossetted and Pressured in Equal Measure

Play seen as key for child development. After centuries of child labor, a golden age followed through first half of 20th Century. However, "For more than 50 years now, we in the United States have been gradually reducing children’s opportunities to play, and the same is true in many other countries."

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NEW: Reinventing our Kids Education

Discussion of reform proposals for elementary education, following: "Bill Gates announced his plan to invest almost $1.7 billion into reforming U.S. public education over the next five years. Of that sum, he allocated 25 percent to “big bets — innovations with the potential to change the trajectory of public education over the next 10 to 15 years.”

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NEW: The Step-and-Column Method of Teacher Pay is Obsolete

Teachers are paid in a way unusual for professionals or for the service industry. Article says teachers "are paid in a highly unprofessional way via the industry-style step-and-column method whereby teachers, no matter how talented they may be, are simply paid by their number of years on the job.”

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NEW: Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak Launches His Own Online Tech Education Platform

New options for online tech education via Woz U: "The platform will be available to students K-12 through partnerships with school districts too.” and Woz explains: “Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt.”

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NEW: Are Public Schools Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness?

Various studies suggest school environment is harmful for some young people "In a world in which an estimated one third of teens are on prescription medication, and almost half of those are on psychiatric drugs (ADHD, anti-depressent, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety), it is important for more parents to realize that school may be a causal factor with respect to their child’s depression."

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Public Forum Monthly Topics

November Public Forum Topic

Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers of ownership.

NEW: Gun Laws That Cost Millions Had Little Effect Because They Weren't Enforced

Two states passed legislation requiring background checks for gun purchases, but: "More than three years later, researchers have concluded that the new laws had little measurable effect, probably because citizens simply decided not to comply and there was a lack of enforcement by authorities."

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NEW: 6 Proven Policies For Reducing Crime and Violence Without Gun Control

Those advocating further gun regulations including universal background checks could consider alternative ways to reduce gun violence.

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NEW: Why Universal Background Checks Won't Work

From 2013, overview of problems with universal background checks.

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NEW: Background Checks Do Not Diminish Crime Rates, But Can Increase Them

Economist John Lott is vocal (and controversial) critic of current and expanded gun control laws. He write: "Since 2000, all of our mass shooters obtained their weapons without using private transfers. Attacks such as the San Bernardino massacre in California and the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon occurred in states that already have universal background checks. Indeed, mass public shootings have recently occurred in France, Belgium, Norway, Germany and other European countries where these background checks also exist."

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NEW: The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control

Many "insist that more laws against firearms can enhance public safety.” David Kopel response that most proposed gun registration regulations would cause unexpected and negative consequences.

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NEW: Research Suggests Gun Background Checks Work, But They're Not Everything

Overview of recent studies on the effectiveness of background checks.

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NEW: Gun Control: More Racial Disparities Than the Drug War

A problem with stricter gun laws is that accidental violations will put more people in jail. And usually more minorities than whites. "Many gun control advocates seem to be under the impression that governments can pass new felony legislation that will take guns off the streets without requiring more aggressive policing, without putting more people in prison, and without the racial disparities in enforcement that characterize the rest of our criminal justice system."

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NEW: Have Background Checks Been ‘Unequivocally’ Shown To Reduce Gun Violence?

Half-true says Politifact...

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