Running the Boston Marathon = helping the Debate League! Debate League = success for my students!
When I decided to run the Boston Marathon this year, I teamed up with some other teachers at my school, Brighton High, to run for the Boston Debate League. The BDL is an after-school program for inner-city students that teaches them presentation, communication and teamwork skills and helps almost 100% of its participants graduate from high school!!!!! We have seen the good it can do for our kids first-hand, and we wanted to help support the phenomenal success that this program has had so far. (Brighton High has one of the biggest debate teams in the city!)
I love that the Boston Debate League engages all students. That means that there are some kids out there who don't love English class, or who don't love math (I know, shocking!) but have a reason to come to school when they are part of the debate team. The debate coaches teach my kids to stand up and defend their opinion, to speak eloquently on a topic, to read, prepare and to work effectively on teams. At a recent debate practice, I heard my students debating each other about whether our school should adopt a dress code or not. Then 10 minutes later, they were debating whether the war in Afghanistan was justified. They sounded so confident and well prepared, I was really impressed!
The Boston Marathon is the primary fundraising opportunity for the BDL. The League needs funds to rent space for their 6 city-wide tournaments (they had one at Boston University Law School a little while back), to help students travel to and from tournaments, to hire judges for the debates and to support coaches and teams at all Boston high schools. The BDL also trains teachers on how to integrate Debate into the classroom to give more students the benefits of debate and they run a summer institute to help kids prepare for the upcoming year (they host it on a college campus and get the college's debate team to work with the students to improve their skills.)
The bottom line for me is the impressive stats on how the Debate League encourages kids to stay in school and graduate:
- debaters attend school more frequently, improve their GPAs by 10%, decrease risky behaviors and achieve a 25% increase in literacy scores compared to non-debaters
- African-American males who participate in Debate are 70% more likely to graduate high school than non-debaters with similar skills
- more than 75% of urban debate league participants eventually graduate from a 4-year college or university
Plus, they're learning life skills around literacy, presentation and teamwork that will serve them beyond just the classroom. Right now, I have 8 students that are on Brighton's debate team- I know I am running for them and their future success. Thats worth the 26.2 miles!
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