The Chicago Middle School Debate League is likely to grow to 17 or 18 schools for the 2011/12 academic year. This growth will push us past the point where we can run typical CMSDL tournaments at a single location. We are therefore going to have to adopt a Conference structure — as the high school CDL had to do back in 1999 — beginning next season with two Conferences, “A” and “AA.” The CDL and CMSDL Conference Structure groups schools based on three criteria: (i) competitive level, (ii) overall rough parity in size between Conferences (i.e, the tournament sizes should be approximately the same), and (iii) school preference.
Please review the draft 2011/12 Conference Roster and let us know if you think your school should be placed in the other Conference. We plan to finalize the Conference Roster by June 1st.
The first four tournaments during the 2011/12 CMSDL season will be Conference tournaments. Tournament Five will be a single-site, combined tournament, with no Conferences, only Divisions (Novice, JV, Varsity): the Chicago Middle School Debate Championship. We may want to discuss the possibility of a single-site, combined T3 as well, in part to prepare both Conferences for the CMSDL Championship.
The Conference structure has been successful in the HS CDL by helping schools develop competitively and in size. A key element of its success has been that we have not hierarchicalized or ranked the Conferences. All Conferences should be equally competitive, equally motivating, equally important. We know as educators that some schools have students who come from educationally or socially less privileged homes than students at other schools. What matters in our work is how far we help our students advance, what difference we make for them, not their raw finishing point (since their starting points aren’t equal). One example of this equity principle is that tournaments in both Conferences in the CMSDL next year will give out equivalent medal count points. That’s just one example.
Obviously we’re interested in your feedback on all this — the Conference Roster especially, but the general Conference structure too.