Matteson, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Education, media and political issues were on the minds of the seventh and eighth grade Huth Middle School students who participated in the school’s third annual Great Debate, “Point/Counterpoint” on a recent evening at the school. Focusing on contemporary subjects, the students brought forth arguments that were based on their month-long research and their own opinions.
“We opened participation to the whole school,” said Stan Smith, social studies teacher and coordinator of the debate with fellow social studies teacher Tom Rock. “The participating students expressed an interest in being a part of the debate, and they worked very hard to gather the research they needed to support their arguments.”
“I encouraged my son, Jabari, to be a part of the debate program,” said Letitia Scott, mother of Jabari Khaliq. “The debate process teaches him life skills. He enjoys writing and I thought that debating would enhance his writing skills. I was pleased with the teachers’ support and guidance and that they encouraged independence so that students felt comfortable expressing their own opinions. It is my hope that my son will be able to continue to participate in debates in high school.”
Lisa Goods, mother of debater Julian Goods, was equally pleased with the debate, and noted, “This is Julian’s second year in the debate. It is a wonderful activity. It has given him the opportunity to learn about a variety of subjects. The debate process is beneficial for the students because it teaches them to think critically and to be articulate. I think it is a great opportunity for them.”
During the hour-long debate, students presented pro and con arguments on the following questions:
Education: Should public schools ban cell phones in schools? Should public school districts be permitted to fund single gender schools? Should schools eliminate letter grades? Is it a misuse of public funds to fund history and arts programs that focus on particular ethnicities?
Media: Has the arrival of social websites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter done more harm than good to students? Do celebrities have a social responsibility to society in terms of the messages and products they support? Should national media outlets face federal sanctions for biased reporting? Should it be illegal for minors to own or play violent or mature-rated video games?
Politics: Is campaign reform necessary to restrict certain types of campaign ads? Are special interest groups a positive influence on politics? Is Homeland Security sufficient justification for the government’s infringement on citizen’s constitutional rights and civil liberties? Should there be a permanent moratorium on offshore, deep water oil drilling?
Responding to opponent Imani Julian’s opinion that special interest groups are a positive influence on politics, Jarred Johnson noted, “…special interest groups donate a tremendous amount of money to political candidates’ campaigns. As a result, the special interest groups will expect special favors. The special favors can lead to corruption. For example, some special interest groups may expect payback from politicians in the form of jobs, or expect a candidate to support a particular cause…Money buys access to politicians who are more willing to make time for donors than for average citizens.”
In addressing the controversial topic of a permanent moratorium on off-shore deep water drilling, Danielle Bush argued, “A temporary moratorium is not going to get the job done. News reports said that the BP oil spill caused great damage and nearly 100,000 jobs were lost. Tens of thousands commercial fishermen have been unable to work during the spill…More drilling means less business for hundreds of companies from Texas to Alabama…”
In response, Julian Goods argued, “If we do place a permanent moratorium on off-shore deep water drilling, it will raise our gas prices to a ridiculous amount. Gas prices are already about $3 per gallon. Plus, it would have a huge impact on our economy. Can we afford to have another 9,000 to 12,000 people unemployed? Well, that will be the number of people affected if we place a permanent moratorium on off-shore deep water drilling.”
“I loved every minute of the debate,” said Patricia Jackson, whose daughter, Raven Jackson, was among the debaters. “The students picked strong subjects and they made very clear arguments. The experience gives them confidence to speak in public and it helps them to build self-esteem. They learned it’s all right to have an opinion and to express it.”
The debaters included Alexis Castillo, Grant Williams, Shaun McClinton, Trineshia Hudson, Jazmine Morris, Leah Rouse, Alana Courtney, Jabari Khaliq, Suvanna Chansiri, Imani Julian, Jami Williams, Danielle Bush, Christopher Jones, Ebony Williams, Alyanna Moraga, Tiffany Hill, Nicolas Thomas, Brianna Oliver, Raven Jackson, Bryce Sutherland, Darren Miller, Krystal Smith, Jarred Johnson, Sophia Lam and Julian Goods.
N.B. This story has been revised per a request of the school district. The original release had incorrect spelling for some names.