Chicago Debaters Challenge Nation's Best

National Circuit Program Raises the Ceiling for CPS Debaters

This season, through the Chicago Debate Commission’s National Circuit Program, twenty top teams from the Chicago Debate League have been competing at major Midwest and national tournaments. In the fall of 2008 Chicago teams competed in seven National Circuit tournaments – in Illinois , Michigan , Minnesota , Iowa , and North Carolina . This semester the National Circuit Program will be sending CDL teams to compete in Georgia and California as well.

The National Circuit Program confirms that Chicago urban debaters can compete with the best high school debaters in the country, from the most privileged and well-established debate teams. The team of Tim Bingham and Charlie Curran from Walter Payton College Prep High School has already qualified for the National Circuit’s National Championship, The Tournament of Champions. They also won the Mid-American Cup in Iowa outright. Two other CDL teams are likely to join them in qualifying for the TOC. Together Chicago teams have better than a .500 winning percentage over the seven NC tournaments to-date. The “higher ceiling” established by the NC Program competition is probably one reason why the Chicago Debate League has dominated national Urban Debate League championships over the last several years.

The National Circuit Program seeks to level the playing field for urban debaters to compete against the top private and suburban teams in the nation. Participating teams import the quality norms and best practices of these national powerhouses back into the Chicago Debate League. Participating in the NC Program expands the perception of “what is possible” for Chicago Public School debaters.

The National Circuit opportunity is open to any team in the Chicago Debate League that has demonstrated the potential to compete and is willing to add this substantial additional effort to their regular CDL season. The NC Program also supports opportunities to participate in the Regional Circuit tournaments, which feature suburban Chicago as well as top CDL schools. Overall, the National Circuit Program seeks to assure that any CDL debater can challenge the maximum level that her ambitions and skills dictate.