The English-Speaking Union of the United States: Education. Scholarship. Understanding.

Middle School Debate

New York Debate League

Welcome to the
New York Debate League!

2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR:

  • November 12, 2016
  • December 10, 2016
  • January 28, 2017
  • March 11, 2017 
  • April 22, 2017 (Hackley School, Tarrytown NY)
  • May 6, 2017: Championship Tournament


Teaching Debate and Argumentation

Date: Thursday March 9th, 2017.
Registration is now closed.

Judge Training

Judge Training will continue throughout Winter 2017. 

Location: TBD

For more information or to register, contact


All Middle School Public Debate Leagues are eligible to participate in the Championship Tournament on May 6, 2017 (At Barkalow Middle School, NJ)

Topics for the Championship Tournament are:

• Restore Pluto's planetary status!

• Congress should significantly increase the number of justices on the US Supreme Court.

• Teachers should receive substantially greater pay if they agree to give up tenure.

• The US should not modernize its nuclear weapons.

• A Constitutional Convention will do more good than harm.

• The Endangered Species Act does more harm than good.



Ability School
British International School of New York
Bronx Academy of Letters
City and Country School
Clinton School for Writers and Arrtists
Dr. Lena Edwards Academic Charter School
Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science School
Dwight School
East New York Middle School of Excellence
Garden School
Hackley School
Hunter College Community School
IS 228 David Boody Jr. High
IS 5
Marine Park IS 278
Nightingale Bamford
NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies
Speyer Legacy School
The Dalton School
The School at Columbia University

Debate Team from the Hackley School wins 2016 English-Speaking Union Middle School Debate Championship Tournament

NATIONAL NEWS – posted May 1, 2016

The Hackley School, Stephen Fitzpatrick, Kiri Fitzpatrick, Hannah Ostfield, Alex Goldman

The English-Speaking Union Middle School Debate Program capped off a successful fifth year with its annual Championship Tournament, which took place at Stone Bridge Middle School in Allentown, NJ, on April 16, 2016.  All six ESU Middle School Debate Program leagues participated bringing together 250 debaters from 29 schools from New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. 

The English-Speaking Union Middle School Debate Program teaches the fundamentals of argumentation and debate to students in grades 5-8. Established in 2011, the program now includes three ESU-sponsored leagues in New York, two in New Jersey and one in Washington, DC.  Some 50 public, private, parochial and charter schools participate in the program, engaging more than 1,000 teenagers annually in weekly after-school debate activities designed to develop and hone student's public speaking, critical thinking, listening and debating skills.

Read Full Story

The New York Times features ESU Middle School Debate

The ESU is pleased to share today's The New York Times article, "A Diverse Mix of Pupils, Learning Civilized Dissent," featuring the ESU Middle School Debate program's New York Debate League. Now in its fourth year, the program, designed to help young adolescents develop critical thinking and language arts skills through public speaking, has reached more than 2,300 students in grades 5 to 8 in New York and New Jersey. There are nearly 900 individual debates through this program annually.

The article underscores one of the Middle School Debate program's strengths—bringing together students from various backgrounds that, as Brianna Scott (a seventh grader at Success Academy Harlem West) says, "prepare[s] you to go out into the world."

Read the article here