The end of the 2010/11 school year marks the conclusion of an unprecedented expansion of the Chicago Debate League over the past three years.  Since 2008, the CDL has increased by over 70% in the number of tournament debaters — a particularly remarkable accomplishment given that the league was already large and mature by urban debate league standards.

Over this vibrant three-year period, the CDL has added twenty six schools over this and two additional Conferences.  Ten months of programming now encompass twenty seven debate tournaments.  Participation at the most poverty-impacted schools, as measured by Title I eligibility, has more than tripled over this time.

New students means there is a greater demand for coaching.  The Chicago Debate Commission responded to this need with a new professional development system that now includes seven separate training venues.  Taking full advantage of our most prized resources — our experienced CDL coaches and accomplished former local debaters — new teacher/coach training hours have increased by four fold.

According to Bill Colson, Morgan Park High School’s 14-year veteran coach: “The Chicago Debate League has been an educationally vibrant and dynamic place with Chicago Public Schools from its beginning, in 1997.  But I’ve seen a re-starting or re-birth of the CDL in the past three years.  There have been new events, innovative systems introduced, new use of technology, and a whole lot more schools and students involved.  That’s been true of the Morgan Park debate program too.  For us, we’ve seen an in-school and an in-city flowering of debate over the past three years.”

Lamont Holifield, the head coach at Chicago International Charter Schools – Ralph Elllison, one of the CDL’s new schools, had this to say about the new professional development system.  “I have been deeply impressed by both the diversity and the very high quality of professional development offered by the Chicago Debate Commission.  I can’t necessarily compare it to what the CDL had before, but I can compare it very favorably to other professional development offerings I have experienced in education.  I feel well prepared and well supported as a professional coach by the CDL.”

“Chicago Public Schools financial support for the CDL has been stalwart and steady,” according to CDC Director Les Lynn.  “Predictably, CPS funding has been capped by the system’s budget pressures.  The crucial difference in the past three years has been the substantial investment by individuals, foundations, and especially corporations — led by CDL Premier Sponsor, Allstate — organized and delivered by the Chicago Debate Commission.  This tremendous support has brought about a myriad innovations and programs that have led directly to the wonderful expansion in the CDL that we have seen.”

And as the CDL begins the 2011/12 competitive season with our summer workshops and training programs, we are dedicated to stand on the shoulders of these recent gains and reach to even farther heights.