[eDebate] program attrition rates

E. Hunter Brooks E.Hunter.Brooks
Sun Apr 9 16:51:56 CDT 2006

I'm doing a survey, but I don't know what it looks like yet.

I'm disturbed by anecdotal evidence that policy debating is going downhill. It seems like for every phenomenal success story (Bard comes to mind) of a school that's built up a nationally competitive program out of nowhere, there are two or three examples of schools with great teams that quietly fade away over the years (Alabama might cut their program next year, and apparently a similar decision has been made at Oregon).

More disturbingly still is the lack of debate at the high school level. Again, all this evidence is anecdotal. In my circuit in North Carolina, there were probably 15-16 high schools that would occasionally send policy teams to tournaments back when I debated (4 years ago). Today, to my knowledge, there are zero. I've heard similar (though less dire) reports about Georgia and Minnesota.

The point is, I want to quantify this. Is this needless pessimism or is this an extraordinarily serious problem that will take more than lip service to solve? I am happy to spend the time it takes to do a rigorous study of this, but don't even know where to begin. So four things:

1. If you have ideas about how to study this more rigorously, please email me. 

2. If you are a tournament director, and you could easily access data about which schools attended the tournament over the past several years, please email me. If nothing else this would be a good way to count programs.

3. If you have started up a new program over the last couple years, please email me.

4. On an unrelated and less important note, if you would like TOC coaching, please email me. The folks who hired me and David didn't qualify so we seri need an emergency plan. We're very cheap and we come in threes; I'll explain if you inquire.


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