On December 10-11, Chicago Debate League students gathered in the historic Citigroup Building at the offices of Performance Trust Capital Partners to debate one of the most important public policy issues of the day: how to improve our nation’s economy.
Students from eight schools survived the competitive application and selection process to be chosen to participate in these unique public debates sponsored by Performance Trust. Participating schools were: Hope College Prep, Jones College Prep, Thomas Kelly H.S., King College Prep, Lane Tech H.S.., Morgan Park H.S., Northside College Prep, Schurz H.S.
Participants went through a rigorous process to prepare for the event. The CDC conducted five training workshops in the two months prior to the event, one of which was hosted by Performance Trust, at which time the debaters received a tour of its corporate offices and bond-trading floor. Each school was matched with at least one Performance Trust Volunteer who visited the schools to help the students develop a deeper understanding of the issues.
During the first day of competition, each team participated in four public debates on topics ranging from the effectiveness of federal stimulus spending and extending Bush-era tax cuts, to big-picture perspectives on the past and ongoing impact of the recent economic downturn. These debates were judged panels of CDL judges and Performance Trust volunteers.
On Saturday, the final rounds were set. Morgan Park and Jones debated in the runner-up round, to decide third and fourth place, while Northside and Lane Tech qualified to debate in the final championship round. For these debates, the topic was “Resolved: That the Obama Administration economic policy is hurting rather than helping the U.S. economy.”
The V.I.P panels which judged the day-two debates included Rich Berg, Performance Trust CEO; Dr. Paul Selden, CEO of Connections for the Homeless; John N. Oest, retired partner from Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell and Chicago Debate Commission Board member; and Brandon McNamara, CDL alumnus and Northwestern University undergraduate.
Charlie Catino, Senior debater from Jones College Prep, remarked, “The Performance Trust debates were challenging, educational and fun. I would definitely participate again if asked.”
Performance Trust CEO Rich Berg commented, “I was tremendously impressed by the CDL debaters, and our firm was honored to partner with the Chicago Debate Commission and the Chicago Public Schools on this great event. The debaters came well prepared to argue conflicting points-of-view on some really complex economic topics and presented their cases with confidence. Based on our experience with CDL debaters from the competing eight high schools, our city will have no shortage of capable leaders as these young people continue their education at the college level and begin their professional careers.”
Bob Chrismer, Chief Human Capital Officer and the firm’s point person for the Performance Trust Public Debates, said, “We were blown away by the content and composure that the CDL debaters demonstrated during the two day tournament! Sponsoring and hosting these debates gave our firm and our employees a valuable and meaningful opportunity to work with a very talented group of students from a diverse cross-section of Chicago’s public high schools. The commitment of time and thought that the debaters invested in this event was inspiring. We all learned from one another.”
Finally the view from the coach of one of the participating teams, David Hayes of King College Prep, was similarly positive and insightful. “The Performance Trust Public Debates were a great experience for our two debaters and for me as their coach. I’m glad King College Prep was able to participate. The format focused debaters’ research and learning and I know my debaters enjoyed the timeliness of the topic. It complemented the work they’re doing in their AP Economics class. The partnership with Performance Trust also made the event more valuable for my debaters; through the work with the PT volunteers and hearing from the distinguished judges, our debaters understand a little bit more about the world they’ll be entering. This is a great example of the value of public/private partnerships and of extra-curricular events that improve our students’ lives.”