I'm a 7th grade US history teacher and after school I am the Debate Coach for our 7th-12th graders. We are one of the few urban public schools with a Debate Team. Three years ago I started the Debate Team with a handful of students. Today, there are about 100 students on the Debate Team from grades 7th-12th. We are the largest urban debate team in the country. And we are one of the most successful.
Debate is one of the most challenging academic opportunities out there. Students learn valuable skills in public speaking, writing, researching, logic, philosophy, current events, economics and so many other subjects. It is one of the most student centered activities where the student is the one in front of the class and the teachers are the ones sitting and listening. And for that reason, debaters devote their after school, evenings, weekends and summers to debate practice, debate tournaments and debate camps.
But most important of all, debate is a college prep activity. Students research and study subjects and authors that they do not normally study until college. Debaters have to read all the major philosophers and philosophies. Debaters study political science, economics, critical theory, and rhetoric. Debaters read college level texts. Debaters travel to tournaments located at colleges like Harvard, Columbia, Yale - to name a few we travel to every year. And debaters get recruited and have opportunities for scholarships for college debate teams. Nearly all colleges and universities have debate teams and outreach efforts for high school students. And debaters also get exposure through competition with their future college classmates. A huge problem that occurs in schools is if students just remain within the walls of the school and are never exposed to their college competition. My students go head to head against students from public schools, failing schools, private schools, parochial schools.
The problem is that debate costs a lot of money. Students will read, write, and research thousands of pieces of evidence. They have to maintain tubs of debate research and evidence that they bring to tournaments. The printing and copying costs are extraordinary. Especially when you have a team nearing 80 students. Most schools that have debate teams are wealthy and have photocopiers, and printers. Our school has one copier for the entire school! So I can't get evidence from that for the kids. Most classrooms have a small printer but that has not been working for the past year! So I do what I can by borrowing other teachers' printers, photocopying on weekends with my own money, and sneaking into use the school copier.
A month ago thanks to Donors Choose and donors like you we finally were donated a printer! And overnight it did wonders for our Debate Team. We were able to instantly access our research materials, arguments, research and other debate needs – instead of hustling for copies. If I was lecturing about a particular argument I could immediately print the evidence for students. In the vast majority of private and elite school debate programs this would be a matter of fact. But in the South Bronx, this was a luxury!!! Students could come in the morning and print all the arguments they needed for the weekend's debate tournament.
The problem now is unfortunately the toner. The toner costs a lot for a high capacity toner that would last several months for our debaters. I used my last paycheck to purchase one, which was fine but over the long term not sustainable. And so we are turning to Donors Choose to help us maintain our printer and hence maintain our Debate Team’s resource needs. While schools have budgets for worksheets and textbooks, schools do not have budgets to print the work, research, and evidence of students and so I am turning to Donors Choose to help make this a reality. Thanks!
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