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How Competitive Debate Can Improve Public Education

Debate makes a real, positive difference, as measured by multiple outcomes

December 14, 2023 (Brookings) – Civil, informed debate is essential for any healthy democracy. This is truer than ever judging from the often uncivil, fact-free public discourse one sees too often on television and social media. Knowing how to debate this way is a learned activity, yet only a small fraction of students in our secondary schools acquire such skills.

But does participation in formal debate training improve educational outcomes? That question is especially important since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which widened racial and income-related disparities in educational outcomes.

In this context, any good educational news should be welcome. Fortunately, there is some, in the form of a recently published study.

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