A novice debater reads his case while his partner flows the debate.

Each spring, policy debaters receive the topic that sets up their entire season. Previous topics have prompted students to become experts on places oceans away. The 2017-2018 policy topic asks students to debate about the place where they spend most of their hours each day: school.

This year’s policy resolution is: “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.”

Changing education offers limitless opportunities for action. Varsity MNUDL students will interpret the resolution in unique ways to build their own cases for improving education. While endless possibilities can be inspiring, new debaters may not know where to begin. That’s why MNUDL provides a novice packet to introduce students to policy debate.

The novice packet includes all the resources novice students need to gain in-depth knowledge of three cases relevant to education. In each case, students will discuss why the government needs to make the change and explain several benefits to adopting their policy. To create the novice packet, a group of Minnesota coaches meets to discuss and vote on the top three cases to include in the packet, as well as the most compelling advantages. “We try to balance what we think will best uphold the resolution while also being interesting to students,” says MNUDL program director Jake Swede.

In one case, students will initiate a plan to fully fund and regulate a universal, public pre-kindergarten education program in the United States. In another, students will initiate a plan to increase funding and regulation for STEM programs, focusing on hiring women and people of color as teachers. In the final case, students will initiate a plan for the USFG to cover 40% of special education costs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Students will argue that implementing these policies would have far-reaching consequences. Some topic areas discussed will be economic growth, poverty, the school to prison pipeline, sexism, racism, and ableism.

The novice packet also contains resources for arguments against the cases. Students will learn how to articulate negative unintended consequences that may come from adopting each of these specific policies. They will also learn arguments that can apply to many other debates on topics like local vs. national control and government spending. The research will help students think critically about hot-button issues like economic growth, educational standards, and diversity in schools.

Watch for later posts with more information about these affirmative cases!