Debate empowers student voices through meeting the real needs of the community


Submitted by the Student Activities department

Dallas ISD debate coaches partnered with the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance (DUDA) to create Community Action Debate (CAD), a new debate format centered around local issues. With 158 Dallas ISD elementary and secondary campuses participating in the district’s debate program, DUDA is the second-largest urban debate league in the nation. 

Michelle Read, Student Activities coordinator, said Dallas ISD debate provides students with an equal shot at success. “As the district continues making debate accessible to all students at every level, we take steps closer to educational equality where voices are heard and civil discourse leads to positive change.”

DUDA Executive Director, Cindi Timmons, has been a driving force in helping the district’s debate programs evolve using CAD. She believes CAD is encouraging students to use their voices and advocate for their communities by realizing making a difference can be a lived experience.  

“CAD combines portable skills with the relevance students crave,” she said. “The format enables students to take their observations and translate those into action steps. It also helps them tell others about their experiences in a powerful way.”  

Designed to be a stepping stone to policy debate, students who use CAD go head-to-head on a foreign or domestic political issue while reading scholarly evidence and injecting complicated debate jargon. CAD is straightforward, involving realistic solutions which could be implemented on a local level.  

When preparing for competitions using CAD, students are required to dig deep into issues through simple research assignments. In this way, they’re able to freely express their ideas centered on current issues such as inequality, racism, or access to housing.  

Students develop confidence and skills to articulate their concerns, knowing one day their voices could create positive change. CAD is designed to be a game changer for those who might otherwise be intimidated by debate, providing students with the tools to advocate for their communities and concerns.  

CAD was introduced at a public debate held at Southern Methodist University, read more about the event here


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