Florida Civics & Debate Initiative
The Opening Argument Why Civics and Debate?
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 Mission 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. falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” ----Justice Louis Brandeis
The Benefits of Debate
- Debate develops citizenship. It builds civic knowledge through research application and experiences rather than memorization and forces students to apply their civics and history knowledge to important questions. In competitive debate, students are required to examine and defend both sides of an issue.
- Debaters must understand the role of government and how citizens participate in a republic. This helps them develop effective arguments as innovative solutions to diverse and complicated issues.
- Debate students learn about political philosophies as they consider how to frame arguments. They learn that abstract ideas have concrete policy implications for real life.
- Debate requires students to reference primary and secondary documents as support for their claims. They also cite major Supreme Court cases. Most of these sources are taught in civics and U.S. history class, and using them as evidence in a debate makes them more meaningful and relevant.
- Debate builds a strong civic disposition. Students learn collaboration, compassion and respect. Early evidence in data from the School Culture 360 survey finds that positive student teacher and student-student relationships increase through participation in the FCDI program.