The road ahead for Revere Speech and Debate

March 7, 2016

Rather than give a speech at last night’s banquet where students and their parents are really anxious to get their awards, it’s better to just jot down a few thoughts about where we are going in speech and debate and share them with you on my blog.

This method comes with a request, especially to our speech/debate parents – with your involvement, Revere Speech & Debate has become a strong and thriving program.  But we can’t count on just a couple of parents, and we can’t count on just a couple of student leaders, to carry the ball. We can have a 35 to 45 student program in 2016-2017, but only if we have the parent support and student leadership to make it work.

A. PARENTS – The more you can do to boost what we are doing, the more time Coach Hayley and I (and other coaches whom we may add) will have to do what we most want to do – COACH. We will be going to a new practice system next year – working 1-2 nights a week for 1.5 to 2 hours beginning at 6 p.m. at the high school.  (Why?  It is more productive for the students that way.)

  1. We need judges. On average, we have to bring a judge for every 3.5 students we take to a speech and debate tournament.  We should plan for a minimum of 8-9 judges for each/every tournament next year, based upon trends.
  2. We need a regularly-meeting booster group. We could solicit businesses for support.  We could obtain judges from law firms and service organizations in Bath and Richfield. We could do so much more if 7-9 parents got together regularly, put their collective minds to work, and made more happen for speech and debate.

B.  PARENTS AND STUDENTS – It is also time for a few major improvements in our program next year:

  1. Let’s go National! There are tournaments in places such as Princeton and Yale.  We have some terrific debaters and speakers, and they would benefit a lot by competing against the very best in the nation.  Our students will see (and be seen) as the top-flight academic achievers that they are. We can, and should, grow by doing two national tournaments in the coming year, and aiming for more beyond that.
  2. Let’s look at Policy Debate – It’s a bit different. A big advantage in policy is that there is just one topic for an entire year. Perhaps we take a group of incoming ninth graders, assign them to policy, and grow the program using them (and their parents as judges) to begin this process.
  3. Let’s plan for how our students approach and prioritize speech/debate – We know that speech/debate is not the No. 1 extra-curricular for every competitor. So, a couple of student leaders and I are giving a lot of thought to having both “regular” and “reserve” squads for speech/debate next year. If a student has other priorities and only wants to compete for 4-5-6 tournaments, we can put them onto the “reserve” squad. Those who aim to compete in eight or more tournaments next year and who tell us that speech/debate is a high priority will end up on the “regular” squad.

C.  STUDENTS – Let’s look at doing a few more things as well:

  1. Raising our profile –– How to we make fellow students more aware of speech/debate and its many benefits?  How do we make sure your fellow students who would make great speakers and debaters get to our program?  Let Anthony or Megan or Leah or Grace know your thoughts about this.  Some of it is simple – put the words “speech and debate” on a letter jacket, for example.
  2. Pushing each other – We need to improve through preparation and practice. P-P-P-P-P-P.  The more time you put into it the better you will become. We could take 15 students to next year’s State Finals, if you’re willing to put in the effort to get there.
  3. Family – Let’s look a bit beyond the everyday irritations and stresses of high school. We all know the anchors that can drag us down. Let’s keep doing what we have done pretty well this year, regard each other as not just classmates, not just teammates, but as valued and cherished members of a family, a Revere Speech and Debate family. With help from student leadership, we can do this.

*    *     *     *     *

There are three additional “IOI” — Items of Interest, I wish to share with you.

One SURE WAY to improve in speech and debate is attend a summer camp.  One hundred percent of this year’s Revere State Qualifiers went to a camp last summer!  Here’s a link to some of the many camps, including ONLINE CAMPS (you don’t have to leave home for these) offered by the National Speech and Debate Association, NSDA:

summer camps

March 15 is WORLD SPEECH DAY.  There are a lot of activities aimed at heightening the value and importance of speech and debate on this date.  Take Action by clicking here to obtain more details:

world speech day

Finally, here is a link to a terrific contest where you can win acclaim (and admission to a camp) by producing a video about the value of Free Speech.  You can also see the ’16 – ’17 NSDA Policy Debate Topic by clicking here:

free speech and policy topic

Advertisements

MEDIA MEMO 2 — Why aren’t we “getting it” about Donald Trump’s primary successes?

March 2, 2016

trump reagan
Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky foreshadowed the 2016 Presidential election 40 years ago when writing the script for the movie “Network.” In the film, deranged anchorman Howard Beale gains great popularity by screaming, “I’m mad as well, and I’m not going to take it anymore” to the TV cameras.

Change the “I’m” to “we’re,” and you have a 12-word summation of the Donald Trump campaign.

By any assessment, America’s middle class is shrinking and in worse shape in 2016 than it was in 2012, 2008, or 2004 or even in 2000. One powerful question which propelled Ronald Reagan to the White House was this: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  It helped him win in 1980, and then the Reagan Revolution led to a 49-state landslide for the Great Communicator in 1984.

The answer from Trump supporters and opponents alike to Reagan’s 1980 question is a resounding NO. According to the Pew Research Center on social and demographic trends, the share of national income for the middle class fell from 62 percent in 1970 to 43 percent today.

Rasmussen Reports regularly asks this poll question:  Is America headed on the right track or the wrong track?  In the most recent poll, only 30% of respondents said it is on the right track.  Over the past four months, 63% to 67% have said our nation is on the wrong track.

The middle class saw as much as $4.6 trillion awarded to banks and financial institutions “too big to fail” in the 2008 Wall Street bailout, while the unemployment rate soared to 10 percent in Fall 2009. Next, the Obama Administration’s $800 million stimulus plan in 2009 did very little to stimulate the economy.  The promised “shovel ready” jobs rarely existed.

Younger boomers have suffered through the loss of careers and well-paying positions.  Millions liquidated IRAs just to stay afloat, and are now working at lower-wage jobs and are woefully underprepared for retirement

Military veterans and those in uniform still serving our country feel betrayed, not unlike their Vietnam predecessors. Iraq is far from secure, and there’s a feeling that the sacrifices which nearly 7,000 dead and 52,000 wounded Americans made in Afghanistan and Iraq have little value.

Gen Yers and older Millennials are saddled with nearly $1.4 trillion in college loan debt. Many of these younger adult members of our society are feeling scant hope for their future. They are settling for jobs they had as high school graduates or students. Higher-paying jobs and careers concomitant with the college diploma are rare or non-existent.

Additionally, many voters helped elect Barack Obama president believing that it would help improve racial relations in the country. Just the opposite has happened. A PBS NewsHour/Marist College survey this past fall confirms what many of us suspect: 58 percent of Americans say race relations were worse than just one year prior. Significantly, 76 percent of African Americans stated they and whites do NOT have equal opportunity in getting a job, and 87 percent of African Americans believe they do not have the same opportunity in equal justice.

Voters on both ends of the political spectrum feel betrayed and fooled. More than anything, “I’m mad as hell …” explains the popularity of Bernie Sanders as well. Look at the candidates who’ve dropped from the presidential campaign.  With one exception (Carly Fiorina), all are long-time elected office holders.

So – why are we so surprised when a candidate whose slogan is “Make America Great Again” does this well in the primary campaign?  Trump has already inoculated himself against the Political Media Complex, and the more they attack him, the more his popularity is destined to grow. (If you don’t know what the Political Media Complex is, refer to a column I wrote on in in September by linking here:)

https://jkerezy.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/media-memo/

What is really telling is a comparison of turnout in these primary elections so far.  On average, Republican primary elections are drawing an average of 24% MORE voters than they did in 2012. The New York Post attributes this to Trump. I’d rather call it the Howard Beale effect, which Trump has masterfully tapped into so far in the campaign.

LIAR, BUFFOON and FIEND: One or two?

One newspaper account called the candidate a “horrid-looking wretch” who was unfit for office. Other media accounts described him as filthy, a story teller, a despot, a liar, a thief, a braggart and a butcher, as well a liar, buffoon and fiend.

The candidate?  Abraham Lincoln.

Hurling powerful personal attacks against political candidates is nothing new, and it’s been happening since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson opposed each other for the presidency more than 200 years ago.

Those who think Trump winning the Republican nomination for president would destroy the party just don’t understand how the two-party system works in this nation. Sadly, this same system is also advancing a Democratic party candidate whom many voters don’t trust. In January, an ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed that four out of every 10 DEMOCRATS or voters leaning Democrat say they do not trust Hillary Clinton, who will soon be the presumptive Democratic Party nominee. The actual number according to the poll is just 36 percent.

And remember – this is a poll of leaning Democratic voters.

So we are in real danger of the word “liar” becoming one of the most-used words in the 2016 presidential campaign. In light of the realities of raising huge amounts of campaign dollars (something at which Hillary Clinton excels) or spending huge amounts of campaign dollars (something Trump will continue to do), it is a tragic commentary on our two-party system if, in a nation of more than 320 million Americans, the “final two” candidates for President of the United States in 2016 are named Clinton and Trump.

As to the growing negativism on the campaign trail, look no further than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Every day there are millions of posts from our fellow everyday citizens, saying the most evil and vile things imaginable about various candidates. What’s especially disturbing is the growing number of times when journalists have joined the fray, posting despicable comments about various candidates (most frequently Donald Trump). Every time, within hours the journalist is “forced” to take down the offending post and to apologize. We are rapidly losing civility in our society.

In her terrific 2011 book “The Influencing Machine,” National Public Radio On the Media managing editor Brooke Gladstone simply and eloquently details how the media impacts us.  This is her concluding line: We get the media we deserve.  Sadly, in 2016 it seems that we are getting the candidates we deserve as well.

 

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO DECENCY?

Max Lucado is an author and pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. His blog, reprinted last week in The Washington Post, points out what many in our nation are now saying: A U.S. President should have much better deportment than what Donald Trump is showing on the campaign trail.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

He (Trump) routinely calls people “stupid” and “dummy.” One writer catalogued 64 occasions that he called someone “loser.” These were not off-line, backstage, overheard, not-to-be-repeated comments. They were publicly and intentionally tweeted, recorded and presented.

Lucado is right. He writes that Trump would not pass the “decency interview” he established for his three daughters when guys came calling to date them. He’s not fit to govern, in this pastor’s eyes.

Of course tens of millions of people are disagreeing with Lucado, as expressed in public opinion polls and at the ballot box. Personally, the only solace I’m seeing so far in the 2016 presidential campaign is that I have a still higher calling than that of a U.S. citizen/voter. I belong to a heavenly kingdom, and when I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior it means that his place as Lord is far more important than the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Romans 13 calls on believers of Christ to be obedient to government authority. If those “final two” candidates for president in 2016 end up being Trump and Clinton, then God is planning for some pruning of our nation. That’s not a pretty thought, but it is about the only explanation that makes sense.

SOURCES:

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/right_direction_or_wrong_track

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2010/04/8987/cmd-releases-bailout-tally-46-trillion-federal-funds-disbursed

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/02/21/Obamas-Stimulus-Plan-What-Worked-What-Didnt

http://collegedebt.com/

http://nypost.com/2016/02/23/rea son-for-record-republican-voter-turnout-trump/

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/02/24/newt-gingrich-2012-the-overture-to-donald-trump-2016/

http://millercenter.org/president/biography/lincoln-campaigns-and-elections

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/race-relations-low-point-recent-history-new-poll-suggests/

http://hotair.com/archives/2016/01/27/wapoabc-poll-hillarys-trustworthiness-down-to-36-among-democrats/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/02/26/max-lucado-trump-doesnt-pass-the-decency-test/