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.

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