[eDebate] Re-thinking the States Counterplan

Pacedebate at aol.com Pacedebate
Sat Apr 4 13:41:06 CDT 2009

If you really want to make a difference then you need to think about the  
place you can have the biggest impact. I believe there are three key areas. 
First, summer debate institutes. For many high school students a  majority of 
their ideas about debate are formulated during the summer. If  you work at 
one of these institutes I implore you to not teach debaters the  states 
counterplan or if you feel it is your educational obligation to teach it  at least 
subject it to a very rigorous test of the solvency advocate for the  counterplan. 
Certainly on next year's high school topic (poverty) there will be  advocates 
for state action to deal with poverty. I'm skeptical that any of those  
advocates will express a preference for uniform action by all 50 states and  
relevant territories. Again, I have a strong preference for institutes removing  the 
states cp from the entire curriculum and I suggest those of you who are  
instructors to just refuse to teach it.
Second, as teachers. Teach your students (high school or college) your  
favorite theory argument against the states cp and help them learn how to  actually 
win these arguments in debates. Many of the arguments expressed by  others 
are sufficient reason to reject the states cp but debaters rarely go for  these 
arguments in debates.
Third, as judges. If the aff goes for "cp doesn't solve" hold the negative  
to the same solvency burden that the affirmative has. If the aff has cards that 
 the federal government can solve certain problems then the neg should be  
required to read evidence that advocates their counterplan which means if the cp 
 does 50 state and territories fiat then they need an advocate for that type 
of  action. Failure to have said advocate should be evaluated not as a 
"solvency  deficit" but as a "100% solvency deficit". It is unfair to expect the  
affirmative to detail and evidence solvency deficits to a counterplan that, as  
others in this thread have noted, is completely absent from the  literature.
I'll conclude with a final comment about summer debate institutes because I  
believe that to be the most significant area where people can make a 
difference.  What happens at summer institutes truly shapes each generation of 
debaters.  Summer institute directors need to seriously contemplate the role of their  
"institute". Are they really an educational arena as their brochures suggest? 
At  any moment in time could a teacher from a high school walk in to a 
labroom and  could the "instruction" being received be justified as truly 
educational? Or are  these programs really just big debate strategy sessions where 
students are  taught cheap tricks by coaches who are really training students to be 
the  debaters they want on their college squads in the future. Lately, I'm 
sad to  report, the trend has been toward cheap tricks and bad arguments. Each 
of you  that works at a summer institute can make a genuine difference in that. 
I truly  hope you will approach your lab with the idea that you are there to 
teach the  students in your group about the substance of the topic. 
Ryan Galloway is 100% correct when he says:
"Instead of encouraging understanding of issues related to poverty, the  
states cp forces everyone involved to narrow and obscure areas of poverty  
Everyone who researches, teaches about, leans about,  and grapples with every 
domestic topic is intentionally cordoned off to a narrow  literature base to 
research the topic to get around that blasted ?federal  government? warrant.  
Maybe it?s time we learned about more.  We are  losing something here, and we 
are losing the in-depth understanding about issues  that are important for 
our students to learn about, especially in trying  economic times."
Please, please, please this summer make a commitment to teaching your  
students about the substance of poverty not the sham of the states counterplan. 
Tim  Mahoney
Director of Debate, St. Mark's School of Texas
10600 Preston  Road
Dallas, TX 75230
214-734-3673 cell
425-740-9130  fax

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