On January 30, Urban Parli Debate, a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, launched its inaugural program at Oakland’s Edna Brewer Middle School. Urban Parli Debate is dedicated to providing high quality, no-cost debate coaching and tournament opportunities to underserved Oakland public schools.
"Urban Parli was founded to address the severe socioeconomic inequality in middle school and high school parliamentary debate," stated Jon Thorpe, Urban Parli's managing director. "Parliamentary Debate, like all debate formats, is dominated by public schools in affluent areas and private schools. Debate offers extraordinary benefits to its participants, but there is serious inequity when it comes to which students get access to those benefits. By providing best-in-class coaching at no cost and covering tournament entry fees, Urban Parli is removing the most fundamental barriers to participating in debate."
Alexander James (AJ), who coaches the Brewer program, is enthusiastic about the team’s future. "We had 14 students sign up on our first day at Brewer and that was with only two days notice," AJ noted. "The response from the school, parents, and faculty has been nothing but enthusiastic."
"If we can make it work at Brewer and grow the program," Mr. Thorpe added, "we see other Oakland public schools signing on which will make Parliamentary Debate a much richer and more diverse activity."
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