Successful Schools in Action (SSIA), which runs Seattle’s only elementary school debate program, announced the date for their spring debate tournament. It will take place Saturday, May 22, at Catharine Blaine K-8 from 9 a.m.-noon. Close to 40 fourth- and fifth-grade students from four Seattle public schools – Coe, John Hay, Lawton, and Catharine Blaine, currently participate in this highly successful program. The debate topic is:
The SSIA debate program is unique in Seattle, and remains one of the only elementary programs in the country. Now in its fifth year, it continues to receive extraordinary accolades. Coe principal David Elliott said, “I have seen the profound and transformative impact of this debate program on hundreds of 9-through 11-year-olds as they learn how to think critically about a subject, gain self-confidence, and have a great time preparing and arguing their cases with their peers.”Great idea and I love that topic so debate among yourselves. Everyone, sometime in their life, will likely have to speak in public. Whether it's part of your job to give presentations or, like many of you, feel the need to speak at a City Council hearing or School Board meeting, this kind of experience can give you confidence.
One thing in the press release that made me smile was this:
SSIA is a powerful example of a public- private partnership that helps strengthen public schools and better meets student needs.
It is true that it is a public-private partnership. But I know the Executive Director of SSIA, Lisa Moore, and asked her if the district itself had anything to do with the debate program. The answer was no. This program started out of an idea from one of the principals of the schools in SSIA and parents (and other principals) grew it from there. Not to bash the district, I don't mean to do that but it seems to me many of the best programs in this district started either from parents and/or school level and grew to prominence not from district support but the support of those school communities. Again, one more reason for the district to listen to parents; we've had some good ideas and support others' good ideas to fruition at our schools.