The Boston Debate League (BDL) is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the Boston Public Schools (BPS) to support academic policy debate teams in Boston public middle and high schools and to train BPS teachers to use policy debate as part of their classroom practice. The BDL has been bringing together an active community of students, teachers, administrators, and community leaders devoted to improving education and life skills of urban youth in Boston for the last ten years. The BDL’s mission is to integrate argumentation and competitive debate into BPS schools to develop critical thinkers ready for college, career, and engagement with the world around them.
The BDL’s focus is to make a significant impact on the BPS schools it serves by implementing two core programs, each with a proven track record of success over the last several years. The After-School Debate League (ASDL), the BDL’s flagship program, builds large debate teams open to all students who then have the opportunity to develop their debating skills and compete with students across the city. Through the Evidence-Based Argumentation (EBA) program, the BDL supports all teachers in a school with professional development sessions and observations as they use debate and argumentation to transform the academic atmosphere and expectations in their classrooms. Results have consistently shown the positive impact of debate and argumentation on students and classrooms. For example, students who participate in debate teams have demonstrated significantly higher performance on many of the standard indicators of college readiness, including standardized tests, GPAs, and Advanced Placement tests. BDL’s long term vision is to promote and support entire schools made up of classrooms of debaters and an entire educational system made up of such schools.