[eDebate] Fall Out & The High School World

Tara Tate tara_l_tate
Mon Aug 18 10:33:52 CDT 2008

Disclaimer:  I do not speak for the organization that I am President of.   The members of that organization can speak for themselves.
I do not coach in state where football is king.  Immodestly stated, I coach in the most well-supported public school district for debate in the country and I am still having to answer administration emails about the incident.  My fear is what is happening to the programs that are not existing in a world where "debate is king."  
The problem is not simply whether I can mount a strong case for debate in lieu of the youtube video.  Your arguments, of course, assume a world of extremely rational individuals who allow for the case for debate to be constructed at all.  More times than not, that is not the audience that we are dealing with.  Fortunately, the Glenbrook administration and Glenbrook parents are sold on the values of debate.  I probably am in the minority in regards to the high school community.    Most parents/administrators don't take the time to fully understand debate.    My "very persuasive" case can fall on deaf ears.  Ask the hundreds of high school programs that are cut each year for much more shallow rationales than this.
My next question, simply, is why should I have to fight to construct a case for debate?  On top of justifying my budget, time away from school, long hours, etc. that I am constantly having to do, why do I now have to add this to my plate of one more criticism of debate that I have to answer?  I should not have to.  This job is hard enough without having to constantly "cover" for my colleagues whether it is the youtube video or poor judgment in edebate posts or inappropriate behavior by judges at tournaments.  We make "selling debate" much harder on ourselves than we have to.
Mike, I know you well enough to know that you are sympathetic and I don't find your response to be out of line at all.  I just wish that high school coaches had the audience that would rationally listen to what you suggest...most don't.  As for Mr. Sanchez' post, there is a huge difference between Calum's "pollution good" lecture and the youtube video.  Bluntly put, I don't think I will be calling on you to rationalize the benefits of high school debate to my administration or parents any time soon...
Respectfully and with an open mind to the dialogue,
Tara Tate
GBS Debate

Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 09:01:11 -0400From: uwgdebate at gmail.comTo: mcneil.debate at gmail.com; edebate at ndtceda.comSubject: Re: [eDebate] Fall Out & The High School World
you live in Texas, where high school football is KING. when parents question whether they should allow their kid to debate based on this incident, you might ask them whether they've checked YouTube for brawls that occur in high school football. the search link reveals 21 clips:http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=+high+school+football+brawl&search_type=&aq=fgiven that this was a college incident (thus not taking place in high school), you could broaden the search to "football brawls" - 636 clipshttp://www.youtube.com/results?orig_query=high+school+football+fight&search_query=football+brawls&orig_query_src=2you can then tell them that, unlike any or most of those clips:1) there were no punches thrown in this incident and no no was injured;2) no charges were filed;3) no laws were brokenyou can then explain to them that, unlike college debate, high school debate is much more highly regulated in terms of appropriate behavior. i.e., i sympathize with your dilemma. however, i think that it's feasible to construct a fairly strong case that what happened after (not in) one debate (by people who weren't participants) at one college tournament should not be the determining factor as to whether a parent should allow their child debate in high school. hester
On Mon, Aug 18, 2008 at 12:21 AM, McNeil Debate <mcneil.debate at gmail.com> wrote:
All:As a former college debater and an active member of the high schooldebate community, I've read this forum for years, and though severalof the discussions have evoked laughter, reflection, or anger, nonehave ever made me want to jump into the fray and contribute.  I'm notsure if that's because I felt like my contribution wasn't unique, or Ididn't want to get dragged into an unconstructive dialogue, or Ididn't have the time, but I suspect it's a bit of all three.  Untiltoday, I didn't even have an account, choosing to read everything asit is archived on ndtceda.com.  I cross the breach because I haven'tseen my perspective expressed, and I feel at this point that it's atleast a relevant part, albeit a small one, of the discussion.I run a high school program in Austin, Texas, and I debated, veryunsuccessfully, for a brief period at what was then Southwest TexasState University in the late '90s.  I even had Bill as a critic on theTitle VII topic, where my partner and I lost to possibly the best 1NCstrategy ever ? a nine minute reader's theater featuring a children'spicture book about worms.  This will be my sixth year as a high schoolteacher and a director.  My kids have had modest success; we do wellat local tournaments and consider clearing at big tournaments likeGreenhill a marked accomplishment for the program.  I'm fortunateenough to coach in an area where some of my students can affordnational camps like SDI and Classic, which is to say that my students,and their families, are well aware that policy debate exists on thecollegiate level.  To that end, I even have former students competingin college programs.I write because I feel like the perspective of a lot of high schoolcoaches like myself is lost in this discussion.  I empathize withthose who argue that the events that happened at CEDA shouldn't affectcollege budgets, and on the larger scale entire programs, and to acertain extent, I agree.  They shouldn't.  I find the arguments thatthe CEDA video and media coverage have the potential to affect thedecision-making of those in power much more persuasive, however,because of what I am witnessing on my level.The thoughts of Ed Lee and others discussing the decision-making ofadministrators is eerily similar to another group of people thatpossesses a phenomenal amount of power at the high school level.  Thatgroup is the parents of my students.  When I read the emails of thosethat have posted here that try to shrug off the news coverage andsubsequent fall out of this story as insignificant, it's unfathomablefrom my perspective.What is that perspective?  For a recent example, let's take the highschool debate documentary, Resolved, that was widely released earlierthis summer.  One parent asked me, "Are students really allowed tosmoke at tournaments?  How in the world is that public high schoolstudent smoking in front of everyone?  Do coaches not say anything?Does that happen at tournaments that my kid goes to?"  Another parentwas concerned with the "hazing" in the film (Sam's choice to notrecognize Matt by his name and to constantly make fun of him) and thefact that there might actually be cussing at a high school debatetournament.Despite the fact that I live in the only truly blue community in theentire red sea that is Texas, I still have parents that are concernedwith things like whether their students will have to advocate onepolitical party or candidate over another or particular issues likethe death penalty or abortion.  Three years ago a local team ran aNazi CP, and a very serious discussion with a parent ensued where akid's future on my squad was called into question.If the parents of my high school students, especially freshmen andsophomores, are concerned about a student smoking in a debatedocumentary, how do you think they would feel the first time they sawthe now infamous video on Youtube?  Here's at least two reactions offthe top of my head:  1.  There's no way in hell I'm going to dropthousands of dollars to send my child to a camp to be around peoplelike that over the summer.  2.  This is what we're preparing for?  Allof these lost weekends and hundreds of hours of research toparticipate in that kind of activity in college?  My kid won't bedebating in college, period.I say all of this to say, that from the "mid-level" high schoolcoach's perspective, what has happened in the way of the events atCEDA, the pursuant media coverage, and the discussion here on edebate,is not something that I can just brush aside.  The fall semester formy students begins in eight days; my first parent meeting will followshortly thereafter.  One subject already on the agenda is thediscussion of this incident.  Every year I have a conversation withparents about whether or not college forensics is appropriate fortheir child; what has happened has certainly made that discussionharder from my perspective.In traditional debate speak, I'm of the school that believes there arefew impacts bigger than running people out of the activity, or in thiscase, never allowing them access in the first place.  I have no hardevidence yet that any of my debaters, or any other high schooldebaters, will not debate in college because of the events that havetranspired.  I can say with some certainty, however, that the eventsthat have happened will certainly weigh on the minds of high schoolstudents and their parents as they decide whether or not to join yourcommunity next year and in years to come.  If what has happened in thelast week tips even one scale in favor of staying out of collegedebate, then a real tragedy has occurred.I sincerely hope that this adds something constructive to thediscussion.  You can dismiss the parents of my students as beingoverly sensitive, or unique, or too involved, or argue that I'm notgood at my job, or say that it's not the responsibility of the collegecommunity to think about impacts external to itself, but as I talk tomore high school coaches, it seems like the impact at our level isgoing to be more widespread than one might think.  I attended apreseason luncheon for Austin area high school debate coaches thisafternoon; the incident was brought up by a coach that doesn't evenhave policy teams and didn't debate in college.  The comments thatensued reinforce what I've said here.Thanks for your time.Matthew MurrellDirector, Speech & DebateMcNeil High SchoolAustin, Texas_______________________________________________eDebate mailing listeDebate at www.ndtceda.comhttp://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
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