So often the voices of young people barely register in debates about education reform and the juvenile justice system. On March 29, students from the Bay Area Urban Debate League showed that youth voice can be as well-researched and enthralling as anything adults have to offer.
In front of a raucous, full crowd in Oakland, BAUDL youth lit up the night with their passion and insight. Celebrity judges including City Councilmember Desley Brooks, Board of Education member Alice Spearman, and Reverend Kwasi Thornell of St. Augustine’s Church helped to make the night special.
Exhibition: Waiting for Superman? William Hampton-Bruce started off the night with a fiery speech advocating that all OUSD schools be gradually turned into charter schools, rooted in his own experience but drawing in academic research. Shah Turner countered with a stream of stormy statistics on the checkered history of charter schools, finishing with the point that many charter schools are even more segregated than urban public schools.
Great Debate: Juvenile Justice. The Great Debate was intense – sparks flew
when Zakiya Moore kicked off the debate with a call to end youth incarceration entirely and replace it with community-based rehabilitation. Elisa and Ciera on the negative countered with a plan to invest in educational programs that could help to prevent the problem of youth crime. In response to a question from the audience, Chris Marquez gave an inspired defense of debate as one such program – and his point was immediately stolen by Elisa on the negative!
A tremendously exciting night. Hope you have the chance to see one soon!