MNUDL students

Thank you to all the debaters, parents, coaches, and supporters that have already reached out to school board members!

We still really, really need as many people as possible to attend the Minneapolis School Board meeting next Tuesday, February 14 at 5:00pm!

One of the big issues is integration funding.  You may hear that some debate teams cannot be legally funded with State integration dollars, but that is not true. So, we’ve created a short summary about Integration & Achievement funding:

What is Integration & Achievement Funding, and Why Should I Care?

  • In Minneapolis, the most of the Urban Debate League’s funding comes from State Integration and Achievement funds.
  • By law, Integration funding must be used for:
    • Racial and economic integration among students AND
    • Increasing student academic achievement, AND
    • Providing equitable educational experiences, AND
    • Reducing the academic achievement gap between students of different races, ethnicities and economic backgrounds.
  • The law specifies that districts must pursue these goals by creating integrated learning environments, access to diverse teachers, professional development, and college and career readiness programs.

Can Integration & Achievement Dollars Be Used At Schools Which Are Not Racially Isolated?

  • Yes, integration funds can be used at any school to support programs that advance the purposes of achievement and Integration. While districts should direct some of the resources to racially isolated schools (RIS), they can also fund programs at any school.

How Does Urban Debate Help Meet The Integration & Achievement Goals?

Urban debate creates highly integrated learning environments. Unlike most other academic or sports programs, debate teams compete against kids from outside their school, their district, and sometimes even their State. Instead of one school competing against another (like basketball or football), debate tournaments bring together dozens of schools with hundreds of students from many racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds, and from inner city, suburban and rural schools.

Beyond tournaments, debaters attend summer camps; inter-school practices, scrimmages, and trainings that bring kids from all backgrounds together.  This is integration at its best: where kids from many backgrounds learn from each other and move beyond the normal barriers of class and color to create lasting friendships.

Urban debate is proven to help close the achievement gap.  3 years of rigorous, independent, controlled studies conducted by Minneapolis Public School’s own office of assessment, concluded that one year in Urban Debate improved MCA reading test scores by 12-14%, and raised student GPA’s significantly.  If the goal is to close the achievement gap, raise test scores and improve GPA’s then Urban Debate meets and exceeds those goals!

Urban debate provides excellent “equitable educational opportunities.” The Minnesota Department of Education FAQ section on Integration funding says, “An equitable education means teaching all students the value of multiple perspectives, critical thinking skills, and the ability to build relationships with others who don’t look like them, believe the same things they do, or live in their neighborhoods or communities.”

There could hardly be a better description of Urban Debate!  Debate clearly exceeds these goals, and helps the Minneapolis Public Schools pursue its Integration and Achievement goals.

What can you do?

  • To persuade the Board bring a large group of debaters and parents from your team to the meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 5:00pm!  Pick 1-3 members of your team to speak while the rest of the team stands with them.  This sends a powerful message about the impact that cutting debate from your school would have for you, your friends and family.  Sign up here:, and here:
  • Email or call your school board members and encourage others to contact their school board members.