Three Lake Okeechobee area schools among the 102 Florida schools chosen to participate in the second phase Florida Civics and Debate Initiative.
Participating schools will include Clewiston Middle School, Moore Haven Middle-High School, Glades Central Community High School.
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said these schools will expand on the success of the program’s first year and its work to elevate civic knowledge, skills and disposition for middle and high school students through speech and debate.
During the 2020-2021 school year, the initiative established competitive speech and debate teams in 30 Florida school districts, with 59 schools and over 2,000 student competitors. With the addition of 102 schools in Phase Two, a total of 161 schools from 48 districts will participate in the 2021-2022 school year. This is more than four times the number of districts offering competitive debate programs in Florida since the program began.
Before the initiative began, Florida saw competitive debate programs offered in only 11 school districts. Along with debate team support, program coaches and regional ambassadors participate in regular professional development sessions to learn how to prepare students for competitive debate.
“It is essential that our students have a deep understanding of our government’s structure and the fundamental principles upon which our country was founded,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Phase Two of the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative will give thousands more students the opportunity to build on their understanding of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the confidence to defend America’s founding principles.”
“The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative supports student academic success while building great citizens,” said Corcoran. “Research shows the many benefits that participating in debate has on critical thinking, test scores, graduation rates, and college acceptance. I am thrilled about the expansion and want to thank the incredible Florida educators who are working hard to help make this initiative available in so many Florida schools.”
Each school chosen to participate in Phase Two will receive support in the 2021-2022 school year to start debate teams, professional development for new coaches, and support educational resources, tournament transportation, coach stipends and membership in the National Speech and Debate Association.
The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative also announced the dates for several upcoming competitions and student opportunities available this year:
● Florida Civics and Debate Initiative Summer Camps, June 21-July 2, 2021;
● National Civics and Debate Championship, November 12-14, 2021.
“Debate is a team sport,” said Florida Civics and Debate Initiative Director Beth Eskin. “These programs help students develop problem solving, communication, teamwork and analytical skills. It’s so rewarding to watch students grow in their craft and to work with dedicated coaches and volunteers who are passionate about bringing these important life skills to their students. As we move into phase two, I am excited to help the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative implement its mission and work with our newest coaches and students experiencing debate for the first time.”
In January 2020, Governor DeSantis announced the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI) with The Marcus Foundation to elevate civic knowledge, civic skills and civics disposition for middle and high school students. The Marcus Foundation committed $5 million over three years to the Florida Education Foundation to increase Florida student’s access to speech and debate program. Before the initiative was created, there were 11 school districts in Florida that participated in debate. In FCDI’s first year, Florida now has 59 active teams in 30 different school districts across the state.
The mission of the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative is to create access and opportunities for all students to have the best civics education including curriculum, debate programs, and high-quality teachers that are catalysts for students becoming great citizens who can preserve our constitutional republic for future generations.