[Ndca-l] Ndca-l Digest, Vol 57, Issue 9

Sara Sanchez slcathena
Tue Dec 17 21:31:50 EST 2013

Aaron, thank you for starting this conversation.  I agree with most of what
you have said and have included specific thoughts below.  I want to echo
the Claire that it's nice to have this conversation occurring here for a
moment.  I'm sure a lot of people have been reticent to post publicly with
all of the drama surrounding the college conversation of late.

> I have read with great interest, and in some cases varying modicums of
> concern, about what is going on in the college community in the last
> several months. Many on all sides of the argumentative spectrum in college,
> as well as the high school community, have asked me my opinion on many of
> the controversies that seem to embroil the college community. While this is
> not the forum to share that perspective (if you ask I will tell you!)  I DO
> very much feel that it is time for the HIGH SCHOOL community to get out in
> front on some of the issues and have open discussions about them. Based on
> personal observation as well as talking with others, the issues I see in
> college that are currently impacting the high school debate landscape but
> will only increase given the trends that I see happening. While I have had
> individual conversations with folks, I see this as a starting point to
> broader conversation among a larger group concerned about the high school
> landscape.
I think it is imperative that we have this conversation at a high school
level.  We do not have the same issues in terms of students,
administrations and our community that the college folk have.    We also
cannot afford to wait 2 years for this to trickle down into the high school

> A few ?meta? thoughts I believe to be true:
> 1st ? High School students are developmentally, and less socially mature
> than college students. Things done in rounds in college, may not be (read:
> are not from my view) as developmentally appropriate for high school
> students. I believe that while debate is a competitive, albeit educational
> game, it is an extension of the classroom. Judges serve the role as ethical
> educators whose role is to serve the educational needs of ALL students.
> Coaches need to understand, and use discretion in the form, as well as
> content, in the arguments their students make as high school debaters. I
> agree I am not the argument or language police. My only point is that as a
> community, soul searching needs to occur to allow alternative, diverse
> voices from different social locations but still be mindful of who we are
> charged to serve; the students (most of whom are minors). The question for
> me is ?would I allow what is being done in this debate in either form or
> content, to occur in a classroom on my
>   campus?? If the answer is yes, go for it. If the answer is no, that
> might tell you something. Understand, this NOT the beginnings of a
> conversation to ban arguments, rather I view it as a conversation and
> potential sounding board to help us all formulate how (and what) we
> personally think about these issues.

I 100% agree with this.  I often think about the walk throughs the
Lexington Administration does during our tournament and whether the
arguments being run would be seen as appropriate to them.  I think it is
imperative we set guidelines that allow debate to be not only accessible to
all programs, but defensible by all administrations.  I think there is room
for innovation and criticism in this realm, but we need to act deliberately

> 2nd ? The landscape of debate has changed dramatically in the last 10 to
> 15 years. Due a variety of factors, debate has likely never been more
> diverse. The dress, style (dare I say method of swag), argument content,
> AND form of presentation have diversified as well. Coaches and judges need
> to be mindful of that fact and treat all students, regardless of social
> location, with respect. To be honest I don?t think the community writ large
> knew what was happening and was (and maybe still are), unprepared for the
> increasingly diverse voices that occupy the debate space.

I think that the place this is probably most evident is in the North East,
and it's a wonderful thing.   It may mean we need to change the way we
approach the activity and tournaments to some degree.  That is not
necessarily a bad thing.  Our activity needed to reach out to new people.
 Now we have and it's imperative that we adapt to the potential changes
that brings.

3rd ? Given the changes in the argument set, and differing styles we are
> seeing, as consumers we need to demand that workshops diversify their
> curriculum to give our students better skill sets to engage ?performative?
> arguments,  beyond framework. The days of ?here is how you answer the K? in
> a two hour lecture, combined with the perfunctory ?cap k? produced as a
> throwaway, should be over. At camps that errs on the side of ?progressive?,
> perhaps sharing with students that not all folks that run plans are ?evil?
> might be in order. More diverse camp curriculum HAS to be part of the high
> school camp scene. We need to all work on helping each other,  actually
> engage each other.  As importantly, Black and Brown students deserve to see
> more workshop staff of color. It was shocking to me last year to see how
> many debaters of color who had success at majors in college, had to search
> to find jobs at ?mainstream? camps last summer. Just saying?

I agree, 100%.  One of the biggest problems I see in college right now is
 an inability of colleagues to talk to each other.  It's imperative that we
not create similar divisions in high school.  Institutes are a great place
to start, it should continue in other places.

> Enough of my thoughts. A few questions for the community:
> 1st ? Do we think any college conversations will have a direct impact on
> the Tournament of Champions? If so, I think this conversation needs to
> occur in a way, and in a timely manner, to do proactive things to address
> all potential concerns from all parties.

I'm unclear about this.  I think it might and if it does we need to work
proactively.  It's possible that this wouldn't impact the TOC this year,
but that's not really a gamble I'm willing to take.  As I stated above, I
think we should be proactive here in terms of coming to a high school
oriented set of goals.

> 2nd ? Is there a need to discuss Mutual Preference Judging and, in its
> current form, how it creates a ?permanent underclass? of judges, and
> negates the need for many of our students (on all places in the
> argumentative spectrum) to adapt, in addition to leaving women and folks of
> color ?on the outside looking in? of elim panels at many events?

I think the answer here is two fold.  Yes we should change MPJ, but luckily
we are in a space where we have not swung so far to the side of preference
that we cannot fix this.  I very much believe that we should have MPJ that
is TRULY mutual.  At the Lexington tournament we run a 9 level preference
system and it's mutuality over preference.  You get a 5-5 before you get a
1-2.  The categories are also even.  Every category is the same percentage,
so we don't front load 1/2s.  I think this is important, it allows people
to truly only get judges in the same band.  Not to artificially place some
judges over others or allow for only 1/1 or 2/2 placements.  A 2/2 when
that represents 40% of the pool isn't really a 2/2.  I think determining a
setup for placing minorities and women on elim panels would be desirable.

Not to get all "back in the day" but I thought one of the best skills I
learned from debate was adaptation.  I'm sad that that is no longer the

> 3rd ? Is there a need to have a Counsel of Tournament Directors at the
> high school levels to discuss ?best practices?? If this were to occur I see
> broad groups, from diverse backgrounds, contributing to what ?best
> practices? actually were.
> I very much think a COTD HS would be a fantastic idea, for all the reasons
you mentioned.

> 4th - Does the NFL/NDCA/TOC need to have a statement/policy regarding
> harassment that all tournaments have an option to adopt/pledge to follow?
> The NDCA has a harassment policy.  But the lack of a body to adopt it
outside of the NDCA tournament leaves it as a document only.  I think a
COTD HS could remedy something like this.

> 5th ? Is there ANY interest in having a conference to work through the
> issues and have sessions to learn from each other? Locations including
> Dallas, Las Vegas, and the time between the CEDA and the NDT/the first day
> or so of the NDT in Indiana, have been thrown out as options. Let?s face
> it, there was a time coaches would talk at tournaments either at coaches?
> functions or between debates. That doesn?t happen anymore.   It looks like
> a forced adult play date of sorts might be in order.
> I am very interested in a conference for HS debate coaches to talk and
figure these issues out. The NDT weekend is ideal to me.  It provides us a
space to see some of these issues in action and a weekend when most of us
are not coaching.  I'm open to other options/locales.  I'm also willing to
help plan

> Sara B. Sanchez
Director of Debate
Lexington High School
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