Our Partners



Click here to preview some of our Endorsements!

An online classroom for debate coaches and students

Online K-12 virtual debate learning solution


They can create their own Voicethreads, maintain their own portfolio of content, create their own identities, build their own contact list of fellow students and send out safe invitations to engage comments. view website  >


Founded in 1970, NABSE is dedicated to improving both the educational experiences and accomplishments of African American youth through the development and use of instructional and motivational methods that increase levels of inspiration, attendance and overall achievement. - view website  >

Blacksonville Community Network is a social marketing and and education consulting firm.

Founded in 2000, Blacksonville, LLC is dedicated to improving both the educational experiences and accomplishments of African American youth through the development and use of instructional and motivational methods that increase levels of inspiration, attendance and overall achievement. - view website  >

Founded in 1970, NABSE is dedicated to improving both the educational experiences and accomplishments of African American youth through the development and use of instructional and motivational methods that increase levels of inspiration, attendance and overall achievement. - view website  >

fake rolex watches

Real School - TV production at DCPSREAL SCHOOL
A monthly news magazine TV show featuring profiles of teachers, students and programs that exemplify excellence throughout Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, FL.

REAL School airs the first Sunday of every month at 10 a.m. on WJCT. It also re-airs on Comcast Cable channel 29 every Monday at 9:00 p.m.


The Duval County Public School System is committed to providing high quality educational opportunities that will inspire all students to acquire and use the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a global economy and culturally diverse world. - View site >

The mission of Gemini E.M.I., Inc. is to empower everyone with the skills and confidence to simply “Make It In Life”, without falling victim to society’s declining social conditions, by getting back to basic  fundamental teachings and principles. To provide all people, regardless of their age, race, social status, education or religious beliefs a  Structured life plan which educates and assist everyone in making better life choices. – View site >

The purpose of Eudcation Star Corp is to empowers youth with knowledge and resources that enable them to transcend barriers to success and unleash their inner greatness. Through “I’m A Star” conferences and events, we bring speakers, motivators, trainers and difference makers together with one focus:   

“To Make Every Child’s Star Shine Brighter.” View site >

Is a group of Black men who volunteer their time and talents to provide training and mentorship programs for the youth. The chapter seeks, provides and acts to facilitate the process of educational, economic and social mobility to improve the quality of life for African American males as they transition from boyhood to manhood. - view website  >

The New Town Success Zone is a community collaboration with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission providing intensive resources to families living within the New Town area – supporting children from cradle to college and beyond.

The collaborative, under the leadership of Program Director, Irvin Pedro Cohen, recently sponsored professional development training and technology courses for students at Butler Middle School which is located within the Zone.

A very special thank you to the following individual donors and supporters.

Lawrence Dennis
Dr. Royce McGowan
Gilbert Alumni Foundation
Julie Currington
Darrell Perry
Betty S. Burney
Emanuel Washington
Christian Reis
Joy Burgess
Sam K. Jackson
Carolyn Rentrope
Dr. Deborah Lynn Owen
Kenneth Dikas
Charles Lyles
Sylvia Johnson
Brenda Priestly-Jackson
Chris Okamota
Beryl White-Bing
Jennifer Graverholt
Shane Schumerth
Eddie Staton
Rosalyn Mixon-Philips
Dr. Stewart Washington
Councilwoman Glorious Johnson
Congresswoman Corrine Brown
Professor Linda Martin
Chris Randall
Jendayi Robinson
Quiana Scott
Kharis Quaintance
Kevin Cotton
Xavier Saunders
Yvette Kibwika
Nadine Robertson
Jerrell Baker
Mr. and Mrs. Maxey
Joe Mathis
Grace Carter
Brennan Robeson
German Vivas
Ms. Ambrister
and so many, many more!

NAUDL Spotlights the Impact of Urban Debate


The NAUDL offers a set of issue briefs on the role debate can play in addressing specific educational challenges, such as graduation rates, secondary literacy, turning around the lowest performing schools, college and career readiness, and implementing the Common Core Standards.


Recently the Jacksonville Bar Association took interest in support of the local league to help turnaround schools in the area.

Can Urban Debate Save Public Schools?


Local school administrators and members of the business sector recently met to finalize support for the Duval Urban Debate League 2010-2011 season. The multifaceted  initiative, the brainchild of Mr. Jermyn C. Shannon-El, has received fascinating reviews from many school members throughout Jacksonville, and it is also heavily endorsed among members of the local business community, both concerned with poor education in Duval County. For some its the 23% black male graduation rate are the results of city consolidation in 1967, for others, its a great divide in adequate school resources, and then some naysayers the high drop out rate is from a lack of race-cultural-specific curriculum in predominantly black schools. The bottom line is  Jacksonville is struggling to meet state standards in education, and Florida is not leading the pack, which makes children in Duval County a special case when we magnify the results of urban debate.

National Urban Debate Topic for 2009-2010


Obama encourages new programs such as debate in publc and private schools.

Obama encourages new programs such as debate in publc and private schools.


Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase social services for persons living in poverty in the United States.

Unfortunately, more than four decades after Michael Harrington identified those living in poverty as “The Other America,” poverty is still an endemic problem in the United States. In 2005, close to 13 percent of the total U.S. population – about 37 million people – were counted as living below the poverty line, a number that essentially remained unchanged from 2004. Of these, 12.3 million were children. Poverty is associated with many harmful outcomes, including poor health, crime, educational difficulties, and other social problems. Poverty continues to plague our society despite over four decades of national effort and trillions of dollars in federal spending to combat it. In a nation as wealthy as the United States, such a high level of poverty is certainly appropriate for the examination and reflection provided by a variety of debates on the topic. Affirmatives advocating this topic will be able to defend a wide range of social services designed to both ameliorate the harms of poverty and to reduce the number of people living in poverty. These services would include expanding child care, health care, food stamps, housing assistance, mental health care, educational assistance, Early Head Start and job training, among others. Negatives would be able to debate against the harms of poverty, questioning the ability of various plans to solve the problems identified and offering many disadvantages, including spending, politics, federalism and net widening. They would also be able to counterplan many of the affirmative plans with the state counterplan. The negative would also have several critical options, including objectivism, statism, dependency, and even critiquing the use of the term poverty.

Author: Chuck Ballingall, California

This excerpt was originally produced by the National Federation of High Schools

DUDL Fall Middle School Implementation 2009-2010


Combining expert knowledge with innovation, passion and determination, we identify the “point of impact” where debate can deliver its greatest educational and social return. Our investment in debate reclaims and transforms school districts and communities – driving academic achievement and improving lives — one student at a time.

Most debate leagues start off at the high school or college level.  However, and unprecedented development strategy is taking place in Jacksonville.  Research identifies the greatest challenge for youth education development occurs during the “transition period” from 8th grade to 9th grade.  We intend to measure the success of our efforts over the course of the first two years by examining the longitudinal impact on the urban community-at-large in Jacksonville, Florida. We believe debate will instill a high level of self-efficacy in active students who stick with the program.

The Duval Urban Debate League (DUDL) is seeking to kick off in the FALL of 2009 in eight to ten Middle Schools, including the “Turnaround Schools” within District V (City Council Districts 9 & 10).

Duval County Middle Schools
Cookman 8:10 – 3:10 > Feeds into Raines High School/Ribault
Gilbert 7:30 – 2:30 > Feeds into Andrew Jackson School
J W Johnson 8:10 – 3:10 > Feeds into Raines High School/Ribault
Kirby Smith 7:25 – 2:25 > Feeds into Andrew Jackson School
Landon 7:35 – 2:35 > Feeds into Ed White High School
LaVilla 8:10 – 3:10 > Feeds into Ed White High School
Paxon 8:15 – 3:15 > Feeds into Ed White High School/Lee/Raines
Jean Ribault 7:25 – 2:25 > Feeds into Ribault High School

in addition to:
Northwestern > Feeds into Andrew Jackson School/Ribault/Raines
Eugene Butler > Feeds into Andrew Jackson School/ Lee/Raines
Highlands > Feeds into Raines High School/Ribault

* Duval County Public Schools list of Board Members

* For the complete Feeder School breakdown, click here

Recruitment Strategy

DUDL offers an alternative model for identifying promising young people from less advantaged, urban environments.  Aligned with public high schools and other community organizations, administrators of DUDL evaluates community assets using a rigorous assessment process based on qualities such as leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and motivation – qualities that are as critical to successful navigation of undergraduate education as academic track records.

The most promising students are invited to accept a scholarship to a Summer Training and Leadership Institute accompanied by a small group of educators for comprehensive training in debate, service learning and civic engagement. Those who attend over the summer “qualify” to compete year round in local nd national tournaments, in addition they receive pre-collegiate training that builds individual and team skills. Debate serves as an essential social support system once students arrive at college.

Currently, DUDL is seeking partnerships with admissions officials from highly selective liberal arts colleges and statewide universities, offering a powerful means to augment the cultural and economic diversity of their institutions.

Duval Urban Debate League Kicks Off Summer Institute


The Duval County School Board (DCSB) has approved a proposal for the support of a seven school Duval Urban Debate League for the Fall 2009 academic year.  For the first time ever, Duval County middle schools wil participate in urban debate, including:  Ribault, Paxon, Butler, Gilbert, SOS Academy, John E. Ford, and Northwestern

The newly formed Duval Urban Debate League (DUDL) will introduce a high tech, rigorous instruction for participating debaters. The Duval Urban Debate League advisory board is made of attorneys, educators and business owners organized under the leadership of social entrepreneur, Jermyn Shannon El, League developer and co-founder of Blacksonville Community Network, Blacksonville Community Network.

“This is a historical moment for education in Jacksonville. I have witness the outcomes of debate in the lives of children and communities. Parents in Jacksonville will really be impressed with how fast students will be able to apprach learning in a different style and attitude once they start debating,” says Jermyn Shannon El.  Shannon El is a graduate of Florida State University where he too once debated.

Although the League will only accommodate the seven middle schools this year, Mr. Shannon-El is not stopping there to add reinforcement to the program. You can find him pacing the street downtown Jacksonville in discussion with the city’s top leadership and institutions seeking new partnerships that value social change, including, Florida State College of Jacksonville, Edward Waters College, and several other universities. “One critical element to debate is the longitudinal trend of peer-to-peer mentorsip that debate fosters organically when debaters stick with the program,” says Jermyn. “We seek strategic alliances with higher institutions of learning not only to expose students to the campus life,  but to develop an Apprenticeship Program that provides scholarships and paid experience to graduate students and mentors. We want the entire community to benefit from this initiative.”

These developments have been met with great enthusiasm by Duval County Public School principals and educators, who see Urban Debate as a “life saver” and welcome the new public-private partnership facilitated by DUDL, as well as the anticipated positive achievement outcomes.

According to Betty Seabrook-Burney, Honorary Chairperson of the School Board, “The Duval Urban Debate League is a model program that we are expecting very positive outcomes from. I believe it is something every child and adult should learn to do.”

If you have a child that you would like to see participate in Debate, please email us at info[at]dudl.org or call (904) 962-7284.

Donate to DUDL


There is no way we can do it alone. Our local Debate League is a joint public/private partnership.  Approximately 50% of the funding for this program is provided by the Duval County School Board. To make debate opportunities available to more and more urban debaters, we need the support of interested individuals, foundations, and corporations. We are asking for your assistance in raising the remaining $250,000 needed to ensure the success of the Duval Urban Debate League.

There are many ways to give, and we welcome your assistance through any of the following means:

Direct Financial Support. DUDL funds its work in pursuit of further academic debate opportunities through donations to our organization.

  • Contribute on-line by completing the form below.
  • Or please make checks payable to “Blacksonville” ( in care of DUDL).  Send to:
    Duval Urban Debate League
    221 N. Hogan Street, Suite 501
    Jacksonville, FL 32202
  • Stocks, bonds, real estate, life insurance, art or other assets that carry no unusual liability may be used as a gift.
  • Planned gifts and bequests, whether or not as part of estate planning, are of course welcome.

Our Kick-Off Reception and Mock Debate. The DUDL will hosts a Kick off event to recognize and celebrate the establishment of the League and its supporters. Tables and sponsorship opportunities are available, starting at $1,000.

Help us provide transportation to our debaters

Help us provide transportation to our debaters

In-Kind Goods and Services. The Duval UDL receives partial in-kind services through Federal Title 1 funding. However we are tremendous need for donated transportation (minivans), legal services, and more.

Volunteer Activities. Much of what the DUDL undertakes can and does benefit from volunteer assistance. Opportunities to get involved are endless. Please contact us for details and specifics.

Please also direct us to any individuals, foundations, and corporations potentially interested in helping Duval County Public School students achieve academically!

Please complete the form below to donate. For more information, contact us at info[at]dudl.org or (904) 962-7284.


$100     Provide food for one monthly workshop at one school

$500     Pays for Debate Kit and Materials for one debater per year

$1,000   Covers a debate scholarship (in your name) to train and provide materials for a debater for one year

$2,500   Provides travel fees for up to 4 debaters to compete in tournaments throughout the school year.

$5,000   Secures a Partner Level Scholarship to sustain the program by recruiting more debaters and coaches. Partners receive high exposure with logo presence on our website, promo materials, and monthly tournaments.

Honoree Information
Billing Information

Photo Gallery


Take an inside peak into the activities of this year’s urban debate developments as seven Jacksonville public schools and a host of community stakeholders engage local students in school and community debates.

[pictobrowser jermyn_shannon 72157617092442908]

Duval UDL Mock Tournament


Volunteers and judges welcome! Join local educators and community leaders in a powerful debate

Duval UDL students tune into intense debate instruction

Duval UDL students tune into intense debate instruction

demonstration at Paxon Middle School from 10am-3pm on Saturday, November 14th. Local debaters will convene to debate this year’s national topic and present a plan for the following case, “The United States Federal Government should substantially increase benefits for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.”

Sign up here if you are interested in attending or volunteering at this event.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

U.S. drop out rate is a national crisis


“If the 6.2 million dropouts were all educated and gainfully employed, the economic attraction of the United States to would-be undocumented aliens would plunge. As it is, 69 percent of black dropouts are unemployed; and, the corresponding percentages for whites and Hispanics is 54 and 47, respectfully. The report attributed the oddity of the lowest rate for Hispanics to the fact that many illegal immigrants included in that category compete successfully for jobs with native-born youths.

There is no better investment in the United States at present than high schools targeting high school dropouts for enrollment and graduation.

Click here for the full article >

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Community Debate Forum & Banquet – Thursday February 25th


Mia Jones - State House of Representatives endorses urban debate.

Come out and show your support for the Duval Urban Debate League @ the Impact Center! The Annual Community Debate Forum and Banquet will consist of a town hall debate around new solutions to increase academic achievement in Duval County Public Schools between community leaders and the Duval UDL’s Great Debaters.

Join a diverse panel of Jacksonville’s new leadership in a community forum on the pros and cons of social services on education, community, and the economy, including Mia Jones, Florida State House of Representative, Sam K. Jackson, founder of the PA.C.E. Life Management Plan, Jacquelyn Green, Florida Department of Children and Families, and Irvin Pedro Cohen, Program Manager of New Town Success Zone, Jacksonville Children’s Commission.

Doors open at 6:00pm to 9:00pm

Opening Ceremonies and Honorariums:  6:00 – 9:00pm

  • Keynote Speaker: Brenda Priestly Jackson, Duval County School Board, Brenda Priestly-Jackson, author, attorney, advocateAttorney, Author
  • Entertainment: Full Force Dance Troupe, Sally B. Mathis’ Stomp Team, Educated Street Man, Loud Mouth Pens and Jessica Shannon (soloist).


Catering by All Purpose Events and Catering

Download the Sign Up Sheet and fax back to 866-899-4886 or email us!

Keynote Speaker: Brenda Priestly Jackson, Duval County School Board, Attorney, Author

Entertainment: Full Force Dance Troupe, Sally B. Mathis’ Stomp Team, Educated Street Man, Loud Mouth Pens and Jessica Shannon (soloist).

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

New elementary debate team joins DUDL


The Duval UDL welcomes it’s newest member to the urban debate league, St. Claire Evans Academy, located on Moncrief Road in Jacksonville. St. Claire will choose twenty 3rd-5th graders to begin training in January in novice speech and debate.

Butler Debate Team vs. Paxon Middle Debate Team
Image by Blacksonville Community Network via Flickr
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Middle school debate league gears up for its first tournament


Gilbert Middle Debate Team researches evidence

The organization will have its first competitive tournament in January.

By Topher Sanders | Story updated at 6:42 AM on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009

Matthew Gilbert Middle School
student Diva Sessions is learning how to develop and deliver an effective argument, but she’s also reinforcing her academic skills.

Diva, 14, is one of about 120 Duval County middle school students participating in the Duval Urban Debate League’s inaugural year.

The organization will host its first competitive tournament on Jan. 23 at Florida State College at Jacksonville‘s North Campus. The organization held a mock tournament in November.

Diva and her peers have been practicing four to six hours a week since October to hone their arguments and learn the skill of debate.

“It gives you great speech skills and confidence,” said Diva, who is in the eighth-grade. “At first you’re nervous, but when you get up there and start to speak … it reassures you.”

January’s tournament is one of three competitions before a championship in April.

Diva’s coach and language arts teacher, Emmanuel Fortune, said his debaters are benefiting academically from the league.

The students’ critical thinking skills, ability to organize complex issues and express their thoughts have all improved in the last three months.

Students study about 30 pages of research on a topic and learn to deliver arguments in favor or against a specific policy issue. They compete in teams of two.

This year’s national debate issue asks students to ponder whether the government should increase services for the poor.

The material brings students in contact with research by Harvard University professors and detailed government documents, which Fortune said introduces the students to a level thinking and writing well above what appears on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Debate instruction is proven to boosts academi...
Image by Blacksonville Community Network via Flickr

Darrell Perry, principal at Paxon Middle School, said he has seen anecdotal evidence of the program’s value at his school.

“It contributes to their literacy skills, they’re more attentive and they’re better listeners,” he said.

About 20 Paxon students participate in the league.

Diva said the program has helped her become a better researcher and has forced her to think about new and different issues.

“It’s research like you’ve never seen before,” she said, “because you don’t have time in school to look through government papers about food stamps. It’s really interesting.”

“Laying out an argument for a debate competition is very similar to the skills students need to be successful on portions of the FCAT,” Fortune said.

“I’m very happy to say that there are gains being made in the classroom as a result of what we’re doing in practice,” he said.

“The academic performance of students participating in debate will be tracked over the next five years to evaluate the program’s impact,” said Jermyn Shannon El, league developer and co-founder of the Blacksonville Community Network.

DUDL - Policy debate lessons and Tournament Pl...
Image by Blacksonville Community Network via Flickr

“The program is scheduled to expand to high schools next year,” Shannon El said, “but the league is still looking for sponsors and support to help its growth. Blacksonville is currently the league’s only financial sponsor.”

A fund-raising banquet will be held Jan. 21 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at The Impact Center at 7422 Atlantic Blvd.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Ribault Middle debate team take first place in Tournament


Ribault Novice Policy Debate Team

Jacksonville, Florida – Novice debaters Maia Ambrister and team mate Ebonee Maxey kept their winning streak alive at the first Duval Urban Policy Debate Competition at Florida State College of Jacksonville (FSCJ) this past weekend, just edging out Butler Middle Debate Team, Adrian Lord and Leroy Harrison III who took home the 2nd place trophy.

Twelve teams went head-to-head for three rounds of policy debate on the topic “the federal government should increase funding for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps) for persons living in poverty in the United States”.

The tournament featured 6 schools from around the inner city of Jacksonville.

“Our young debaters can’t seem to surprise me enough. Their confidence, performance, and passion for is a clear indication that Jacksonville will deliver national contenders in a few years. This last event was a tremendous showing for what’s in store when you raise the expectations and provide students with variants in learning,” said Jermyn Shannon El, DUDL Developer.[book id='' /]

For the past four months, the Duval UDL has instilled a new level of pride and academic achievement in six of Jacksonville’s lowest performing Turnaround Schools.  The League’s unique engagement, research and instructional debate specialists contribute to the education of all debaters and provides tremendous leadership, creativity and scholarship in their academic studies. Since August 2009, the Duval UDL has engaged local public schools in more than 500 hours of after school debate activity, community engagement and in-school training.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sneak peek at the Jacksonville policy debate tournament awards ceremony


Butler Middle Debate Team brings home the 2nd place trophy in style. Congratulations to Coach Beryl White-Bing and supporting educators for your outstanding work and dedication to excellence!

Community Debate Forum – Jacksonville


The purpose of the Community Debate Forum is to create dialogue around the holistic development of urban youth and the importance of a global education.

Two main themes of the event will touch on each point, as follows:

  1. Brenda Priestly-Jackson, keynote speaker, will highlight the future of education and how the community-at-large must alter our perspective on life to create effective change. Mrs. Priestly-Jackson will give us a snap shot of what education looks like in 2020.
  2. The panel will consists of various key figure heads who will share the significant roles they play in state and local government, as well as their perspective on the benefits of social services. On the other side of the panel, we have the Great Debaters, the majority of which are the recipients of social services.  Their role will be to discuss how debate has afforded them to analyze the Cons/Negatives of social services.

Click here for more details >

Inaugural Year Gallery


[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623924259068"]
[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623476860572"]
[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623147297201"]
[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157617092442908"]
[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623189243339"]

Middle school debaters’ competition first for Duval County


By Topher Sanders of jacksonville.com

Debate competition didn’t introduce Eugene Butler Middle School eighth-grader Davon Bostick to the skill of arguing – that’s something he already knew.

“I’ve always been good at that,” Davon said. “I’m always getting into it with my sister, so that was the easy part.”

The hard part was learning the art of research and the how to apply facts and history to his arguments. And learning those skills has helped Davon become a better debate participant and student.

Duval Urban Debate proves academic success in Jacksonville public schools

Northwestern Middle School brings home the goal after an intense final debate round against Ribault Middle Debate Team. Support the urban debate movement!

“Debate helps me better with research classes such as science,” he said. “While we’re doing the science fair, it’s easier for me to research topics.”

That’s the whole point of the Duval Urban Debate League, to help students master research and improve their academics. The league held its first championship Saturday at the University of North Florida.

Davon and 29 other students from five middle schools put forth their best affirmative and negative arguments on whether “the United States federal government should substantially increase social services for persons living in poverty in the United States.”

That was the 2009-10 resolution selected by the National Federation of State High School Associations and debated by all students in the country.

Read more >  http://bit.ly/dqrGfw

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

An Inside Look of the Duval Urban Debate League, Part I


By Lisa Schemensky
The Forensics Community

My involvement in Forensics Debate began when I was a Sophomore in high school. Being rubbish at acting, and unable to get cast in a play, I decided to join my school’s Speech Team.  I had several friends who were active members in both Speech and Theatre. They enjoyed Speech. Could not quite explain to me what it was (“competitive speaking and acting…sort of”), but their obvious jovial nature aroused when speaking of Forensics was plenty to transform me into a Speech Kid.

Three years later I qualified to compete at Sectionals, was a Team Captain, and had sharpened my acting/analysis skills so I was successful in high school drama. Despite some strain on the team my Senior year, I loved the experience. Even my decision to attend Bradley University was influenced by the knowledge that if I continued involvement in Forensics I would be competing on one of the Nation’s strongest teams.

Although I might not have joined Bradley’s Speech Team, opting instead to pursue my dream of obtaining a Minor in Theatre, Forensics has been a constant source of growth, development, and confidence since when I entered my first round to perform a scene from Alice in Wonderland. I could not imagine having not been in Speech. Where would I be? Who would I be? If people truly are a composition of their past experiences and what was learned through them, I doubt I would be who and where I am now. Frightening. It is impossible to know how a lack of Speech would have transformed my life. What is possible to measure is the positive influence it has had. Every student should be so fortunate.

But the fact is they are not. I have no idea the scale of high school’s with Forensic or Debate teams. With The NationalDuval Urban Debate League leads Florida's movement to expand opportunities in speech and debate. Forensic League, at least one State run Speech and Debate League per State, and there exist various other leagues as well, Forensics is strong. Yet, there are still an enormous amount of students without access to Forensics. Especially with the current economy, school’s are being forced to make challenging decisions to cut “unnecessary” programs. And Speech and Debate can become expensive with travel costs. Couple that with a small program and disaster occurs.

There are sources of good though. Educators and Forensics alum know of Speech and Debate’s benefits. So much so that there are independent organizations that exist to provide students with access to Forensics. For instance the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) is a network of Urban Debate Leagues across the country. Started in 1997, or 1985 if including the first Urban Debate League ever from Atlanta, the NAUDL recognizes Debate’s importance for students. Debate has been linked to a higher GPA, a higher chance of attending college, a lesser chance of dropping out of high school, increased communication skills, improved analytical and critical-thinking skills, more confidence/motivation/community awareness, et cetera for most students who participate (Urban Debate Value). As you read there are currently over five-hundred high schools which are part of the NAUDL. The number continues to grow with newly formed Urban Debate Leagues across the country.

Leagues like The Duval Urban Debate League (DUDL) of Jacksonville, Florida. The DUDL is “a public-private partnership operated by the Duval Urban Debate League Community Debate Council…a private group of civic and business leaders, and [the] Duval County Public Schools”. The goal can be simply stated: provide a league and activity that can help a child achieve both character and educational development. The means to do so are not so easy. Finding backers to fund the League, train and organize teachers and parents to operate tournaments, teach educators and adults how to Coach Debate, getting the community and students involved, integrating a Debate course into the curriculum, and so on.  Forming an Urban Debate League is NOT an undertaking for the weak. Yet, the Duval Urban Debate League has not succumbed and is a growing League after only being formed in September of the 2009-2010 school year.

Jermyn Shannon-El leads next wave of Great DebatersJermyn Shannon-El leads next wave of Great Debaters

I have been fortunate enough to be able to speak with a leader of the Duval UDL, Jermyn Shannon El.  More of this in Part II.

Thus concludes Part I.  Stay posted for the release of Part II.

Works Cited:

“About.” dudl.org. Duval Urban Debate League, n.d. Web. 25 May 2010.

“Urban Debate Value.” urbandebate.org. National Association of Urban Debate Leagues, n.d. Web. 25 May 2010.

Urban Debate Summer Camp Invite and Registration



We invite you to join us for one to three weeks of intense debate instruction at the Summer Debate Institute 2010. The final week of one-to-one instruction will take place at William M. Raines High School, 3663 Raines High School, Jacksonville, Florida.

Students can sign up for FREE OPEN REGISTRATION FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN DUVAL COUNTY.  In addition to one-on-one and collaborative debate instruction found at most debate institutes, such as theory lectures, lab work, and community debate forums, the Duval UDL will places special emphasis on digital literacy, civic engagement, and service learning.  Debate participants will have a wonderful opportunity to learn from many of the top debate coaches from across the country and to develop a personal debate portfolio to enhance their college and career opportunities.

The staff of the debate leadership institute possess highly diverse skill sets.  Dynamic educators in English, Language Arts, and History will join us to offer a variety of perspectives on debate. More important, staff for the institute are selected with particular attention to their instructional abilities in addition to highly competitive debate accomplishments.   Students from previous years remain in close contact with each other and with their lab leaders.

I hope that you will choose to join us this summer at Paxon Middle School beginning Friday, July 19th, 2010. Please complete the form below to get started. Please bear in mind that the Duval Ur­ban Debate League works hard to fundraise to support scholarships for stu­dents in Duval County. Each scholarship is valued at $1000. If, for any reason, you are un­able to attend, please let us know as soon as possible so that another student has the chance to take advantage of this opportunity.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.

Sincerely yours,

Duval UDL Administration / Community Debate Council
info@dudl.org | 904-419-3211


An Inside Look of the Duval Urban Debate League, Part II


An Inside Look of the Duval Urban Debate League, Part II

By Lisa Schemensky
The Forensics Community

Continuing from Part I: After reflecting on the impact Forensics has had on my life, and the benefits of Urban Debate brought to kids who otherwise would not know of Forensics, I get an inside perspective of The Duval Urban Debate League.

I learned of the Duval Urban Debate League (DUDL) while working on The Forensics Community’s Twitter account (@ForensicsFriend).  The DUDL (follow them @greatdebaters) had posted a story about a recent middle school tournament they had held and I retweeted.  What followed was an e-mail correspondence with Jermyn Shannon-El, Founder/Developer of the DUDL.  Like most, I did not know much about Urban Debate, however; I wanted to — particularly about a league so fresh and helpful to their community.  So I asked Jermyn a few questions about Urban Debate and the Duval UDL.  I hopeJermyn Shannon El, Urban Debate League Developer you, the reader, finds his responses as enlightening as I did.

Lisa: Is the DUDL a member of the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL)?  I am kind of making the assumption here that Urban Debate leagues across the country are all unified under that National group…

Jermyn: First of all, thank you for this wonderful opportunity to publicize the Duval UDL. I absolutely love the ForensicCommunity. During our inaugural year, our administrative staff, selected to organically grow the League to ensure DUDL met local and state requirements both academically and socially based on student/school/and district needs. We anticipate to become a member of the NAUDL next year. All urban debate leagues are not necessarily a part of the NAUDL, particularly in the South where policy debate is practically void at the secondary and post-secondary level.  [Note: Policy Debate is the main type of Debate practiced by the NAUDL, thus why the NAUDL is not a major factor of Southern Debate.]

Lisa: Is the DUDL strictly for middle schools?  If so, does it feed into a high school Urban Debate program?  And what is the success rate of middle schoolers who debate sticking with it in HS?

Jermyn: DUDL started out at the Middle School level (6-8) to meet the challenges most students face to stay in school. (continue reading under image to the right)

"The Duval Urban Debate League kicked off began as an in-school/after school program for 6th-8th grade students. The Leagues mission is to aggressively enhance the academic curriculum over a 5-6 year period. This is a critical stage for most students who transition from middle to high school. With seven middle schools in the first year, the League is poised to expand to an additional five middle schools and a minimum of five high schools next year in Duval County alone, in addition, we are processing two elementary schools. We developed our League to meet the five year strategic plan of the local school district and Florida state-wide Strategic Plan. We are currently developing a strong evaluation of the program not only based on where the students are, but where we hope they will be academically and socially as graduates in 2014. The majority of our schools this year are Turnaround Schools, though next year will not necessarily reflect such, we plan to expand to the feeder high schools of our targeted middle school debate teams." - says Jermyn Shannon-El, League Developer

Lisa: I read how your program’s “lesson plans are designed to enhance debate course work inside and outside of the classroom.”  This implies that the DUDL is not just an after school activity like most Forensics teams at schools (I apologize if I am wrong).  How does this program work?

Jermyn: The private-public partnership affords us the opportunity to introduce career education incentives for our debaters and debate coaches. It opens doors for professional development beyond the classroom. We use a variety of technology solutions and applications, such as VoiceThread and Google, to empower students, parents, and coaches with debate enhancement tools and lesson plans that are leveraged 24/7. The debate coaches that are educators go out of their way to incorporate these tools in their daily instruction to better prepare students for test, tournaments, and overall academic performance.

Lisa: So students sign up for debate and have competition on weekends?  How much like an after school class/activity is the DUDL?

Jermyn: Yes…we host student recruitment workshops once per quarter at each school to engage new and existing debaters in the program. Each month we host a policy debate tournament at a different site location to engage students, parents, and educators with a different learning experience at a middle or high school or diff college campus.  It follows the tradition of urban debate with After School activities and instruction, however we try as much as possible to engage novice debaters in public forums and community service learning projects

Lisa: I love the approach here and genuinely wish to know more about how the DUDL is integrated into the classroom/education system.

Jermyn: Thank you. It is definitely a work in progress with very high expectations from all involved. Debate has been strategic in rallying the entire community of Jacksonville around higher learning activities for all youth.

Lisa: What qualifies a school or student access to use of the DUDL’s resources?

Jermyn: Nothing more than a special interest in in speech and debate at the secondary or post-secondary school or district level. They can visit our website at www.dudl.org to sign up as a student, school, volunteer, or donor.

Lisa: How many schools are involved?  Also, on the DUDL site student membership is listed around 150; is that number still true?

Jermyn: We currently have about 100 registered and active members and roughly 15 schools going into the Summer.

Lisa: What can people do to help their local Urban Debate League…or even start one?

Jermyn: Our initial goal in developing a successful, fully-engaged debate program is to get the support and commitment from the District, Principals, and Parents during initial registration. We visit all entities to carefully explain the program and to have participation/consent forms  from all parties involved. We then set up a fund development strategy for each school and a “train-the-trainer” program with ongoing professional development for the debate coaches and educators involved. For interested parties who wish to sign up, they can simply visit DUDL online to complete the form here.


It is because of leagues like the Duval Urban Debate League and the people behind them that young people in America are given a chance. The frustrations caused by those in control’s desire between wanting to provide for students and their inability to do so is endless.  Yet, not one person or practice can be accused.  Blame No Child Left Behind’s failures, the Economy, poverty, a focus on teaching towards a test instead of a general enrichment of intelligence, misappropriation of funds, lack of focus on the arts, and so on.  The simple truth is funding cannot be relied upon, nor is funding alone enough to create a solid league – or school system even. What can be counted upon are the people behind the league. The dedication, passion, and will they possess is inspiring.  Without Debate and Speech fighters like Jermyn, battling for those without a voice, for kids who never dreamed they could even find a whisper, nothing would get accomplished.  The Duval Urban Debate League would not exist;  nor would the National Association for Urban Debate League have such a presence.  The first Urban Debate League in Atlanta could never be.

But they do.  Because there are dreamers and those with compassion willing to sacrifice.  To endure. To grow.

Works Cited

Shannon-El, Jermyn (follow on Facebook). Personal Interview. 13 May 2010.

UNF Host Site for the Jacksonville City Debate Tournament


Saturday APRIL 30th, 2011



Debate Tournament Archives

COMPLETE ** MOCK Tournament/Practice Round
– NOVEMBER 14, 2009
8:00am-3:30pm @ Paxon Middle, Principal Darrell Perry, 3276 Norman Thaggard, Jacksonville, Florida 32254  (just off Edgewood)

COMPLETE **First Official Duval Urban Debate Tournament – JANUARY 23, 2010
8:00am-3:30pm @ Florida State College of Jacksonville (North Campus – Parking Lot 1, Registration in Main Auditorium, Debate Rounds – Bldg D), 4501 Capper Road,  Jacksonville, Florida  – (just off Lem Turner). lease visit the Auditorium for registration. Judge training will start promptly at 7:00am. We will occupy rooms 202, 203, 205. 206. 208, 209,211 and 213 (where we will host our Judge training session from 8:00am-8:50am)

COMPLETE** Second Official Duval Urban Debate Tournament FEBRUARY 20, 2010
8:00am – 3:30pm @ Raines High School, Principal George Maxey, 1424 Franklin Street, Jacksonville, Florida  – (just off Moncrief Road) - dudl_invitational_02-2010

COMPLETE** Third Official Duval Urban Debate Tournament – MARCH 27, 2010
8:00am -3:30pm @ Northwestern Middle, Principal Robert Gresham, 3276 Norman Thaggard, Jacksonville, Florida 32208. - dudl invitational 03-2010

This tournament will consist of the Food Stamps AND Mental Health cases debaters are required to prepare for competition.  Please refer to your Training Manuals issued during the Fall training retreat for full documentation. You may also refer to the resources below for supporting research/evidence.

COMPLETE** City-wide Urban Debate Championship – APRIL 24, 2010
8:00am-5:00pm @ UNF Brooks College of Health, Building 39 |  1UNF Drive Jacksonville, FL 32224  |  (904) 620-281


View Events for a more current schedule of upcoming tournaments.


Chicago Charter School 100% Black Male College Attendance…AGAIN!

The students at the school are required to wear a jacket and tie every single day. They also go to school for two hours longer than other kids. They take English twice a day and are given a mentor with a cell number that kids can call 24 hours a day. They’ve clearly hit the mark when it comes to understanding that getting our children to the land of educational success requires both academic and sociological strategies.

Read full story on AOL > http://www.bvonmoney.com/2011/02/17/urban-prep-academy-gets-100-black-male-college-attendance-ag/


High-Tech To Help Turn Students into Engaged Citizens

$3 Million from Knight Foundation for Civics Experiments At Bob Graham Center at University of Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Dec. 21, 2010) An electronic “Civil Debate Wall”, social media, an innovative online curriculum and a “citizenship fellows”program are new ways that The Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida will use to encourage civic commitment among University of Florida students. Top researchers will evaluate the pioneering approaches and share the information with other universities across the nation.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities, is supporting the initiative with a $3 million grant. The grant is the largest ever received by the Bob Graham Center.

“Knight Foundation promotes programs that inform and engage citizens.  We think that is key to sustaining democracy,”said Alberto Ibargüen, the foundation’s president and CEO. “It isn’t enough to simply bring back civic education.  We should be open to new approaches that foster civic engagement, especially ones that use digital technology. The Bob Graham Center is an ideal laboratory for testing and studying new ways of strengthening the civic fabric of our society.”

“This wonderful grant from the Knight Foundation will allow us to launch some very novel programs in areas like social media and interactive online experiences that will greatly expand our reach,”said former Senator Bob Graham. “We believe these ideas can spread to other campuses and create an exciting new generation of student leaders, citizen activists, who will go out and spur changes in their communities at the local, state and national level. “

“There is so much information that inundates students and leaders every day,”Graham continued. “The skill we at the Bob Graham Center need to develop in our citizens and leaders is how to assess that information, and act on it. This important grant from the Knight Foundation will help us create programs to develop that next generation of citizen activist and leaders in both the civic and public sectors.”

“The Bob Graham Center forms a central component of our university’s effort to produce our state’s future leaders,”added Bernard Machen, president of the University of Florida. “We’re grateful to Knight Foundation for supporting groundbreaking work in new media and civic engagement among young people.”

The initiative will create:

  • Knight Effective Citizenship Fellows, who will do research to develop best practices in encouraging a lifelong civic engagement;
  • A high-tech “Civil Debate Wall”that will allow students to instantly engage in debate and conversation on issues. The wall will anchor a series of interactive kiosks both on and off campus that will poll students on their views, and present them with opposing opinions on issues.
  • An interactive, online course called “Rethinking Citizenship”that will teach students civic engagement on the local, state and national levels. The curriculum will be reviewed by a panel of experts and scholars.
  • A series of live forums and panel discussions that will use live streaming, multi-media imagery and social media tools to link students and scholars in public policy discussions around the world.

Civic health is a pressing issue in Florida. The National Conference on Citizenship has ranked the state 34th nationally in average voter turnout, 48th in public meeting attendance and 49th in volunteering – making it one of the weakest civic cultures in the nation.

The Bob Graham Center’s central mission is to reverse these dire trends. Former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, who also served three terms in the U.S. Senate, created the Center and has been active in pushing for curriculum reforms in civics education. He is the author most recently of “America: The Owner’s Manual: Making Government Work for You,”which details his approach to using detailed case studies of citizen-led campaigns to teach students the “nuts-and-bolts of democracy.”

About the Bob Graham Center for Public Service

The Bob Graham Center for Public Service is a community of students, scholars and politically engaged citizens, devoted to enhanced citizenship; the training of current and future public and civic leaders who can identify problems and spearhead change; and the development of policy on issues of importance to Florida, the United States and the global community.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

Contact: Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation



Spread the Word and Support Urban Debate!

Ok, I want to Officially introduce to my extended Network something that is very dear to heart with me. I want you to share in this Opportunity to help change the lives of over 100 middle and high school youth here in Jacksonville. As you kick off the new year take a moment and consider where you invest your money, time, and knowledge in the community. And carefully consider the impact of your ROI.

I work daily as a social entrepreneur to create change in my local community. A few friends of mine recently helped me develop a few campaign initiatives to raise funds for a novice debaters to travel from Jacksonville to Atlanta to Emory University to witness a national debate tournament at the end of January.

Our goal is to sale 500 T-shirts by March 1st, 2011 for two chaperons, 8 youth, lodging, meals and travel fees over a three day weekend. Please purchase a T-shirt and we will add your name to our Signature Sponsors list on the back of shirts in appreciation. Visit our fanpage at www.facebook.com/greatdebaters to learn more or http://blacksonville.storenvy.com/collections/6423-featured

fake rolex

Thank you to everyone who supported our Cause to increase academic achievement for students in underserved communities.

Duval Urban Debate League

Jermyn C. Shannon-El, Developer

New Debate Coaches Prep for 2011 Season Kick-off

Urban Debate kicks off next year 2011 in Jacksonville, FloridaHappy Holidays from the supporters and Great Debaters of the Duval UDL. We are preparing next year to go in full swing with a Mock Debate during MLK Weekend. We look forward to your continued support. Stay tune for full details!

Protected: Fall 2010-2011 Next Steps

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: