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The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative will hold events and competitions virtually this year. Spencer Reeder is an FCDI sponsor for West Port High School of Marion County.
“I also teach speech, as in public speaking here at Westport. To me this obviously it ties right into debate. But speech is one of those courses that needs, in my view, to be mandatory for graduation because obviously there’s not an occupation where communication isn’t essential,” Reeder said. “And so, the debate falls right in line with that, you go through not just your professional but your personal and social lives, having to try to debate topics.”
Reeder says the program is needed and will be a positive, long-lasting effect on Florida and the students.
“This is going to hopefully start the process of teaching our younger people how to line up arguments for one side or the other affirmative or, or the negative side of a debate. I think it’s going to be very positive,” he said.
Participation in the program could improve due to online convenience and no traveling.
Melissa Forsyth is the principal of Liberty Middle School of Marion County. This will be the first time her school will be participating in the program.
“We’re looking forward to it. it aligns with our way of work perfectly and so it definitely is a no-brainer in terms of us setting it up, because it’s definitely what we’re looking for for our kids.”
Forsyth said she is eager for the program to begin as it fits her students’ expectations in academics.
“We are AVID school-wide,” she said. “AVID stands for advancement via individual determination. And when you’re AVID school-wide, it’s kind of just the mindset of the school that we expect our students regardless of their background, regardless of where they’ve been in the past academically, to have really high rigorous standards, and those expectations for them are throughout our campus.
“Because of that this is a perfect initiative since this is really trying to make sure all students have access to this high level of rigor and debate.”
According to the Florida Education Foundation, the initiative intends to be implemented in all school districts by 2023.