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The End Of Debate Programs In Our Public Schools

Recorded on: March 6th, 2015

Air Date: March 9th, 2015

The City Club of Eugene has long recognized the important function of debate in our community. The vigorous clash of ideas is central to our cultural identity. Our great local hero Wayne Morse was a renowned debater.

It’s hard to imagine a future in which the residents of our community might be shy about expressing their views. Yet that fate could be in our future. The 4J School District — alone among Oregon’s 10 largest school districts — has cut all funding for high school debate programs. So has the Springfield school district. Lacking public support, debate has disappeared from three of the four 4J high schools. Meanwhile, debate programs are building momentum at local private schools.

The four speakers on March 6th will discuss the decline of debate programs in our public high schools and what that means for the future

Matt Bucy is a student at North Eugene High School who previously participated in debate, but is no longer able to do so.

Liliana Hernandez is a Springfield eighth-grader whose middle school debate program has volunteer coaches. Next year she will enter Springfield High School, which has no debate program.

Henry Lininger participates in the South Eugene High School debate program, which is led by parent volunteers.

Steve Clemmons, the Associate Forensics Director at the University of Oregon, where he provides instruction in speech and debate. He previously served as a high school debate coach in the East Bay area of California.

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