Bringing Policy Debate to Nashville Public Schools

“Nashville Debate” is a program designed to provide a framework and support for growing policy debate in Nashville’s public schools. Nashville has a varied history of local forensics and debate. Many public schools have fielded strong policy debate teams from time to time, but few have been able to maintain a team for more than a few years, and the local competitive circuit is focused more on individual forensic events, Lincoln-Douglass and Public Forum debate. While these are extremely valuable extracurricular activities, they frequently lack the rigor, academic grounding and structure of cross-examination, policy debate.

Nashville has rich opportunities for local debate competition, including a number of private schools with long traditions of nationally-competitive policy debate. Supporting policy debate programs in Metro Nashville’s public high schools will also serve to provide exciting new local competitive opportunities for these established teams.

The Nashville Debate program is based on the “urban debate league” model that is successful in numerous other cities. The program provides a structure and support for policy debate activities for Metro Nashville Public Schools. This translates to comprehensive (coach & student) training, personalized coaching assistance and local opportunities for competition.

Specifically, participating schools will benefit from the following activities:

  • Professional development and training for teacher-coaches in leading debate teams
  • Training and local competitive opportunities for students
  • Individualized assistance with team preparation, recruiting and coaching
  • Assistance with preparing techniques for utilizing debate in classroom activities
  • Assistance with materials, supplies, etc.
  • Resources for questions and coaching dilemmas
  • Participation in program assessment with academic and social measures
  • End of season celebration for coaches, student participants, school community and families.

Urban Debate Impact

Urban Debate Leagues have proven to increase literacy scores by 25%, to improve grade-point averages by 8 to 10%, to achieve high school graduation rates of nearly 100%, and to produce college matriculation rates of 71 to 91%.

Urban Debate Testimonial

"Those 4 years in debate were the educational foundation of everything I did. And I don't mean that in some simple form...I'm saying the finest education I got from any of the institutions I attended, the foundation of my mind that I got during those 4 years of competitive policy debate." -- John Sexton, President of NYU