THE OPENING ARGUMENT

WHY CIVICS AND DEBATE?

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The proud American tradition of respect – in personal and political interactions – for free and unencumbered speech continues to be a gift left to us by our Founders and remains a uniquely American civic tradition.

 

America is becoming more polarized by the day. People dig into positions without fully examining them, and want to be heard but refuse to listen to others. The failure to engage in civil and respectful conversations with those whom we disagree is unhealthy for our constitutional republic and the democratic values we hold dear.

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THE MISSION

The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI) seeks to expand and enhance civic knowledge and reinvigorate public debate and civil discourse in Florida classrooms.

 

Florida has always been an innovator in education and continues to lead the way in civics education. The FCDI is committed to developing upright, virtuous and self-governing citizens who recognize and accept the responsibility to preserve and defend the blessings of liberty inherited from previous generations.

 

FCDI is the only statewide debate program of its kind in the nation. We’re excited to tell the story of FCDI and to offer a model for any state, district, school or teacher to establish competitive debate teams.

THE BENEFITS

OF SPEECH AND DEBATE

THE MISSION

THE MISSION

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GREAT

DEBATES

Here are a few of the great debates that still serve as an example of what free speech is all about and show us the value of how civil discourse shaped history.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

JANUARY 2019

Comprehensive review of Florida's standards

FEBRUARY 2020

JULY 2021

JUNE 2019

MARCH 2021

A call to emphasize
civic literacy

New ELA standards
adopted

The Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative

New civics and government standards adopted

ESTABLISHING THE FLORIDA CIVICS AND DEBATE INITIATIVE

EXAMPLE

SETTING THE

In just two brief years, the FCDI has developed 161 new speech and debate teams in 48 school districts; held 25 debate tournaments with over 3,000 student competitors; provided over 600 hours of professional development to new debate coaches; and facilitated professional development to 300 civics and social studies teachers.

In 2019-2020, 11,678 students in Florida competed in speech and debate. That number increased to 14,357 after year one of the initiative. In year one, the FCDI developed 59 new debate teams, with an additional 102 added in year two. The number of Florida school districts with competitive speech and debate teams has grown from 11 to 48, with the vision of all 74 districts fielding teams by 2023.

Comprehensive review of Florida's standards

THE CLOSING ARGUMENT

Competitive debate supports academic learning, builds character, teaches responsibility and draws out hidden talents in students. Students learn to be flexible and think quickly on their feet. Although there are rules and standards for judges to follow in competitive debate, communication is a subjective process. Students must adapt their arguments to win ballots from a diverse judge pool. The feedback students receive from judges helps them better understand how to frame the most effective message. This input helps build students’ high-level and critical thinking skills.

Research shows that participating in debate can increase critical thinking skills by 44%.*

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According to Forbes, communication is the most universally important and indispensable leadership skill.

Forbes identifies the six most important business leadership communication skills: written, verbal, presentation, non-verbal, cross-cultural and listening.

 

Debate uniquely supports and develops each of those necessary business skills.

 

 

Florida has led the way in strengthening civics instruction and education in Florida’s kindergarten through post-secondary schools. Florida has embedded strong civics curriculum in Florida’s English language arts standards and has adopted new civics standards and curriculum.

Education, built on a solid foundation of American history and civics, along with passionate teachers trained to develop debate skills, lead to independent and engaged citizens, and a better tomorrow.

ARE YOU READY

TO GET STARTED?