[eDebate] Re-thinking the States Counterplan
Pacedebate at aol.com
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.
Director of Debate, St. Mark's School of Texas
10600 Preston Road
Dallas, TX 75230
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