PUBLIC DEBATE: Charter Schools and Civil Rights

Presented by the Harvard-Westlake Debate Team & Team USA
with Special Guest Judges

January 16, 2017|  5:00pm-7:00pm  |  Rugby Auditorium  |  Harvard-Westlake School  |  Open to the Public  |  Appropriate for All Ages

 The 2014-2015 USA Debate Team at the Harvard-Westlake Tournament. January 4, 2015

The 2014-2015 USA Debate Team at the Harvard-Westlake Tournament. January 4, 2015

Topic for debate:

This house believes that charter schools undermine educational civil rights. 

From The Atlantic
The charter-school movement now serves roughly 2.3 million students nationwide at more than 6,000 campuses—schools that are primarily funded by taxpayers but free from the bureaucracy and tangled union rules typically found at regular public schools. But the movement, which enjoyed a vibrant growth spurt and turns 25 next year, no longer seems to espouse the same grassroots values that it once did...Politically, the movement continues to gain strength. New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, received campaign funding last year from hedge-fund managers who awarded $4.4 million total to pro-charter candidates across the state, according to The Huffington Post. Similarly, The Los Angeles Times has reported that the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, and the housing developer Eli Broad (both Democrats) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars this past spring for each Los Angeles school-board candidate in support of charters.

The NAACP has called for the moratorium of the expansion of charter schools.  "Opponents say that too many charter schools promote racial segregation, are poorly run and siphon public funds from traditional public schools, which educate the neediest students. The Black Lives Matter movement, in a wide-ranging platform released earlier this year, supported a charter moratorium." Meanwhile, "A letter signed by 160 African Americans involved in education — many of them leaders of charter schools — accused the NAACP of making a false anti-charter argument and said that a “blanket moratorium on charter schools would limit black students’ access to some of the best schools in America and deny black parents the opportunity to make decisions about what’s best for their children.”

Our public debate will focus on the impact of charter schools in the context of the educational civil rights movement. 

Judges, as well as the audience, will be asked to make a decision on the round. After the decision is announced, we are asking that judges take some time to participate in a post-round discussion with the debaters and the audience regarding their own thoughts on the issues raised in the debate.


The debate will used a slightly shortened version of the 3-on-3 format used at the World Schools Debate Championships

A quarter final debate from the World Schools Debating Championships, held in Dundee, Scotland. The motion is 'This House Supports Free Immigration' England is proposition and Scotland is opposition This video is not my own. Scotland win the debate 4 -1


Monday, Jan 16
4:00 Arrivals begin. Proceed to Rugby Auditorium.
5:00 Introduction of judges, debaters & the debate format.
5:20 Round begins.
6:10 Debate Ends - Intermission, while judges deliberate. 
6:25 Panel discussion - Judges give feedback, opportunity to introduce themselves, their organization, etc., addressing the whole group.
7:00 Meet and greet judges and Team USA. Snacks and drinks will be offered.


Harvard Westlake School, Upper School Campus
3700 Coldwater Canyon Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604


Guest Judges

Nick Melvoin '04 - Moderator
Nick holds a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a Masters in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University (LMU), and a law degree from the New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar.

Carla Woods Cretaro '94
Principal, Community Magnet Charter (Link)

Dr. Charles Flippen, MD
Associate Professor of Neurology, UCLA

Claire P. Goldsmith
Director of Malone Schools Online Network. (Link)

Dr. Anthony Sparks
 American television writer-producer and playwright. He is also an essay writer who focuses on media, performance, and African American politics and culture. Professor,  CSU-Fullerton. (Link)

This is a free event that is open to the public. 

About the Harvard-Westlake Debate Tournament
For three years, Harvard-Westlake has hosted largest and most prestigious high school-run tournament in California. It is, in fact, considered one of the most prestigious in country. The tournament is one of only eight tournaments are designated as an Octa-finalist qualifier to the Tournament of Champions (meaning placing in the top 16 earns you a leg to the TOC). Last year, our tournament also became an official “prep tournament” for Team USA - which represents the United States at the World Schools Debating Championships. 

About Team USA
Team USA is the officially sanctioned team according to the World Schools Debate Championships governing body and is managed by the National Speech and Debate Association. The USA Debate team represents the diversity of our nation. The National Speech & Debate Association wants to ensure all students have full access to the opportunities available as they compete for USA Debate, without being limited by individual economic circumstances.

About the National Speech and Debate Association
The National Speech & Debate Association believes communication skills are essential for empowering youth to become engaged citizens, skilled professionals, and honorable leaders in our global society. We connect, support, and inspire a diverse community of honor society members committed to fostering excellence in young people through competitive speech and debate activities.