Educating Kansas Public Debate Big Success
DEBATE-Kansas City (DKC) held, “Educating Kansas: A Public Debate over School Funding in the Sunflower State” at Johnson County Community College February 9th, 2016. The issue of school funding affects everyone in Kansas, including students and teachers that are part of DKC. The goal for DKC was to have an exciting and educational debate that generated informed public discussion. Over one hundred people attended and the event was sponsored by: The Arthur N. Rupe Foundation, The National Speech and Debate Association, Johnson County Community College, The Kansas City Star, UMKC and KCUR.
Before the debate began, Sam Zeff, the education reporter at KCUR, provided background into the debate over of education funding in Kansas. Through his coverage, Mr. Zeff has become a foremost expert on the topic. He discussed the history of Kansas school funding and provided updates on the latest developments, which happened to include a $40 million cut in funding the day of the debate. Also in attendance was Kansas City Star columnist Barbara Shelly and Steve Roberts of the Kansas State Board of Education.
The goal for DKC was to engage the community with a dynamic academic debate over the funding of education in Kansas. DKC, the debaters and the sponsors were nonpartisan. The debaters included two DKC graduates, Candace Villanueva and Kayla Gilmore, and DKC senior Alex Trobough (Sumner). And just like competitive debate, the public debaters did not choose their side. The three positions in the debate were:
- Overturn the 2012 and 2013 tax cuts and return to the previous Kansas education formula. Alex Trobough argued this side.
- Keep the tax cuts and block grants and give Governor Brownback’s and his supporters’ proposals time to work. Candace Villanueva argued this side.
- Revolution in the schools house. This argument is what known’s in academic debate as a critique. It rejects both other positions in the debate, and instead calls for institutional change for truly equal education. Kayla Gilmore argued this side.
The event program mapped out the debate speech order and DKC provided what’s known as a flow chart. Debaters use a flow chart to keep track of all the arguments in a debate and the audience was encouraged to do the same.
The event also garnered media attention. Channel 41 NBC Action News did a piece on the nightly news, The Kansas City Star sponsored the event and ran a promotional story. KCUR was also a sponsor and did an interview with the debaters on Up to Date with Steve Kraske. And DKC Program Director Isaac Allen was interviewed on KMBZ radio. Below are pictures from the event and more information on each DKC debater.
All photographs by Joseph A. Getto.
Alex Trobough: Senior at Sumner Academy recently accepted into Harvard University. Placed 2nd at the 2015 UDL Nationals in policy debate and was a 4-speaker policy debate champion in Kansas.
Candace Villanueva: Debated at Sumner Academy and JCCC where she earned the CEDA All-American Debate Award and an associate’s degree. She graduated from Ottawa University and returned to JCCC in admissions as the Diversity Recruiter. In May 2016 she will earn a master’s degree from Avila University.
Kayla Gilmore: Sophomore at Emporia State University. She debated in college for ESU and at University Academy where she graduated HS. Kayla won numerous debate awards in her six year career, but now focuses on campus leadership as a student assistant on the Emporia State Diversity & Inclusion team.