Brooklyn middle school’s bilingual debate team among nation’s best

Brooklyn middle school’s bilingual debate team among nation’s best

Fox 5 News, September 26th, 2019

NEW YORK - For many of the students in Brooklyn’s M.S. 50, Spanish is their first language. Five years ago, Principal Benjamin Honoroff decided that no child would be left out of debating on a national stage, making the school’s debate team bilingual and challenging English-only norms at tournaments.

M.S. 50 finished in the Top 4 in the country at the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament in Dallas, Texas. 

“Ninety-six year-old institution, and never before had there been a team that debated in a language other than English,” Honoroff said. “We had students debate in both Spanish and English. We brought in interpretation devices, we fundraised to bring interpretation devices and a professional interpreter to the tournament.”

“We’re bridging gaps in classrooms, talking to other students that they weren’t speaking to before, teaching other students that had no idea about the immigration topic,” said Miana Vega, a debate coach at M.S. 50. 

About The New York City Urban Debate League

Our mission is that every school should have a debate team and every student should have the opportunity to the best debate education opportunities. One of the most critical problems in education today is the academic and civic achievement gaps. Our solution is to provide the best college, career, civic, communication and community opportunities through year round academic debate. Each month we work with thousands of students and hundreds of schools. We support debate practices every day, debate centers every week, tournaments every weekend, workshops every month, debate camps all summer, and year round support for any student and teacher. We are one of the the city’s most award winning curricular and extracurricular programs. We have received awards from the White House, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Presidential Commission on the Arts and Humanities, National Institute for Museum and Library Services, The Social Index of Top 100 Nonprofits, BoardSource, Points of Light’s Civic Accelerator, Teach for America, and by the First Lady as “one of the top arts and humanities based programs in the country.” Why Debate? Debate teaches every academic skill and every academic subject. A Great Debater means a person who has the skills and confidence to lead, to speak up, to argue, to question, to read and write to right the wrongs, to know about the world around you, and to change the world around you.

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