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125 High School Debate Topics To Challenge Every Student

Learn how to argue with logic instead of emotion.

educational topics for debate

Some teachers shy away from debate in the classroom, afraid it will become too adversarial. But learning to discuss and defend various points of view is an important life skill. Debates teach students to research their topic, make informed choices, and argue effectively using facts instead of emotion. You’ll find plenty of engaging high school debate topics in this list for inspiration. Each topic includes a link to an article from a reliable source that provides pros and/or cons to help kids make their arguments.

School and Education Debate Topics

Life and ethics debate topics, entertainment and technology debate topics, fun and funny debate topics.

Students should be required to wear school uniforms.

  • It’s better to be good at academics than to be good at sports.
  • Final exams should be abolished.
  • Students should be required to wear school uniforms.
  • Private schools are better than public schools.
  • Year-round school is better for students.
  • Standardized tests are effective.
  • Every student should have to participate in athletics.
  • All students should be required to volunteer in their community.
  • Junk food should be banned in school cafeterias.
  • Single-gender schools are better for students.
  • Schools should be allowed to teach critical race theory.
  • Math is the most important school subject.
  • Schools should teach sex ed instead of abstinence only.
  • Letter grades should be abolished.
  • Teachers should be replaced by computers.
  • People who get better grades in school will be more successful in life.
  • Sometimes it’s OK to cheat on homework or a test.
  • Students who fail a test should be given the chance to take it again.
  • Outdoor recess is important at every grade level.
  • Students should be allowed to grade teachers.
  • Everyone should be able to bring their pets to school.
  • Shorter school days are better for students.
  • Schools should eliminate dress codes.
  • Everyone should be required to go to college.
  • College should be free for everyone who wants to attend.
  • Schools should install safe rooms in case of mass shootings or natural disasters.
  • Schools should be allowed to ban some books from their libraries.
  • Book smarts are better than street smarts.
  • Schools should provide free mental health services to students and teachers.
  • Schools should teach life skills like cooking and personal finance.
  • School vouchers benefit students and schools.
  • Religion has no place in schools.
  • In-person school is better than online school.
  • Traditional school is better than homeschooling.
  • Charter schools should receive public school funds.

Cigarette smoking and vaping should be banned entirely.

  • Girls face more peer pressure than boys.
  • The voting age should be lowered to 16.
  • Humans should not eat animals.
  • Democracy is the best form of government.
  • All Americans should be required to vote.
  • Cigarette smoking and vaping should be banned entirely.
  • Giving is better than receiving.
  • Parents should be punished for their children’s mistakes.
  • Animals should not be kept in zoos.
  • Happiness is more important than success.
  • The driving age should be raised to 18.
  • The drinking age should be lowered to 18.
  • Plastic bottles should be banned.
  • People should have to take a parenting class before having a child.
  • If you find money on the ground, it’s automatically yours to keep.
  • It is better to be kind than to be truthful.
  • Learning about history can stop us from repeating past mistakes.
  • It’s important to spend money exploring space.
  • White-collar jobs are better than blue-collar jobs.
  • The death penalty should be abolished.
  • Drug addicts should receive help instead of punishment.
  • Euthanasia should be legal.
  • GMOs are more helpful than harmful.
  • Human cloning should be legal.
  • A progressive income tax is better than a flat tax.
  • Supreme Court judges should be appointed for fixed terms.
  • Vaccines should be mandatory.
  • We should ban fossil fuels.
  • Marijuana should be legal everywhere.
  • All drugs should be legalized, regulated, and taxed, like alcohol.
  • Nuclear weapons should be banned worldwide.
  • Police funding should be redirected to social services.
  • Religion does more harm than good.
  • Testing on animals should be illegal.
  • We will never achieve world peace.
  • The United States should implement a universal basic income.
  • We should require people of all genders to register for the draft.
  • Healthcare should be universal.
  • Gun safety laws infringe on the Second Amendment.
  • Anyone over 12 should be tried as an adult in court.

Social media does more harm than good.

  • Reality television depicts real life.
  • Schools should allow students to use phones in class.
  • Macs are better than PCs.
  • Androids are better than iPhones.
  • Social media is making us less social.
  • Social media does more harm than good.
  • Video games are better than board games.
  • Video gaming is a sport.
  • Reading books is better than watching TV.
  • We should replace all paper documents with electronic versions.
  • The book is always better than the movie.
  • Parents should use their kids’ cell phones to track them.
  • Playing video games makes you smarter.
  • Scientists should try to develop a way for everyone to live forever.
  • Paper books are better than e-books.
  • Schools should have surveillance cameras in classrooms and hallways.
  • All museums and zoos should be free to everyone.
  • There is intelligent life on other planets.
  • People rely too much on technology.
  • Everyone should play on the same sports teams, regardless of gender.
  • Net neutrality should be mandatory for internet service providers.
  • Expanded use of artificial intelligence will be good for humanity.
  • Technology is creating more jobs than it eliminates.
  • The United States should provide free internet access for everyone.
  • Cryptocurrencies should replace cash.

Dogs are better pets than cats.

  • Dogs are better pets than cats.
  • A taco is a sandwich.
  • Summer is better than winter.
  • Coke is better than Pepsi.
  • Pepperoni is the best pizza topping.
  • Fruit counts as dessert.
  • The number 13 is not unlucky.
  • People should eat to live, not live to eat.
  • Monday is the worst day of the week.
  • Clowns are more scary than funny.
  • Modern music is better than classical music.
  • Aliens live among us here on Earth.
  • It’s OK to put ketchup on a hot dog.
  • Was Robin Hood a thief or a rebel hero?
  • It would be better to be able to fly than to be able to turn invisible.
  • Pluto should still be considered a planet.
  • It’s better to be too hot than too cold.
  • We should allow people to go barefoot anywhere if they want to.
  • Fiction is better than non-fiction.
  • Using profanity is good for your mental health.
  • Leftover pizza is better cold than reheated.
  • It’s OK to wear socks with sandals.
  • Being famous is actually not all that great.
  • GIF should be pronounced “JIFF” not “GIFF.”
  • People shouldn’t have to go to school or work on their birthdays.

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educational topics for debate

100 Good Debate Topics for Middle and High School Students

100 debate topics for students

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/24/24

Debating can greatly impact your ability to develop critical thinking skills, communicate your ideas clearly, and conduct thorough research to support your opinions. Keep reading for a list of popular debate topics for students of all ages. 

When you're in a debate, you learn how to make strong arguments, really listen to what others are saying, and quickly respond. It's like mental gymnastics, making you sharper and quicker-witted. 

We've put together a huge list of 100 debate topics that are perfect for middle and high school students like you. These topics cover all sorts of areas, so there's something for everyone. Plus, we've thrown in some tips to help you get even better at debating and answered some common questions about how debating works in schools.

Debating is not just about winning arguments; it's about understanding all sides of an issue. This skill is super useful, not just in school but in life. Whether you're discussing something with friends or figuring out your own beliefs, being able to debate helps a ton. 

And remember, a good debater can argue any side of an issue because they understand the importance of seeing the full picture. So, dive into these debate topics for students and see which ones get you fired up to start debating. Who knows? You might discover a passion for something new or find out you're really good at making your point.

Popular Debate Topics in School

These middle school and high school debate topics will help students foster a deeper understanding of complex issues, hone their critical thinking skills, and cultivate respectful dialogue.

Debate Topics About Society and Governance

Explore pressing issues and engage in thoughtful discussions with these curated debate topics focused on societal trends and governance challenges.

Debate Topics for High School About Politics

  • Is democracy the best form of government? 
  • Should voting be mandatory? 
  • Can protests create change? 
  • Should the Electoral College stay? 
  • Is nationalism beneficial? 
  • Should Political Campaign Funding Be Publicly Financed? 
  • Is Political Polarization Threatening Democracy? 

Debate Topics for High School About Government

  • Big vs. small government? 
  • Should the government regulate the Internet?
  • Can censorship ever be justified?
  • Government funding for space exploration? 
  • Is universal healthcare a government responsibility? 
  • Should electoral systems be reformed to enhance democratic processes?

Debate Topics for High School About Business

  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Necessary? 
  • Minimum Wage: Essential or Excessive?
  • Businesses as Social Problem Solvers?
  • The Gig Economy: Exploitative or Empowering? 
  • Profit vs. Ethics: Where Should Companies Stand? 
  • Should Companies Embrace Remote Work Permanently? 
  • Is Universal Basic Income a Viable Solution to Economic Inequality? 
  • Should Businesses Be Required to Disclose Their Environmental Footprint? 
  • Are Subscription-Based Business Models Sustainable in the Long Run? 
  • Is the Sharing Economy Beneficial for Society? 

Debate Topics About Humanities and Arts

Dive into the rich world of cultural expression and historical perspectives with these engaging debate topics for humanities and arts.

Debate Topics for High School About History

  • Was the Industrial Revolution beneficial or detrimental? 
  • Should historical figures be judged by modern standards?
  • Is history destined to repeat itself?
  • Were the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified? 
  • How has colonialism shaped the modern world? 

Debate Topics for High School About Philosophy

  • Do humans have free will? 
  • Is there life after death? 
  • Can morality exist without religion? 
  • Is happiness the ultimate goal of life? 
  • Should the truth be prioritized above all? 
  • Do humans have an inherent purpose? 
  • Is reality subjective?
  • Are moral absolutes possible? 

Debate Topics for High School About Beauty

  • Is beauty subjective or objective? 
  • Has social media distorted beauty perceptions? 
  • Should cosmetic surgery be banned for minors?
  • Are beauty contests harmful? 
  • Can beauty standards be harmful?

Debate Topics About Science and Technology

Uncover the complexities and advancements in our world through these stimulating debate topics centered on science and technology.

Debate Topics for High School About Science

  • Is genetic engineering ethical? 
  • Should we invest in space exploration? 
  • Can science solve all problems? 
  • Is climate change the greatest threat? 
  • Are humans overly reliant on technology?
  • Should Pluto be classified as a planet?

Debate Topics for High School About Nature

  • Preserve or develop national parks? 
  • Is veganism the environmental solution? 
  • Balancing development and environmental protection?
  • Is hunting ethical? 
  • Should zoos exist? 
  • Should Governments Implement Stricter Regulations to Combat Deforestation?.
  • Is Urbanization Positively or Negatively Impacting Biodiversity?
  • Should Plastic Straws Be Banned to Reduce Ocean Pollution? 
  • Is Ecotourism an Effective Tool for Conservation? 
  • Should Protected Areas Be Opened to Limited Sustainable Development? 

Debate Topics for High School About Technology

  • Should there be limits to artificial intelligence development? 
  • Is technology dehumanizing us? 
  • Can privacy survive in the digital era? 
  • Should social media face regulation? 
  • Is internet access a human right? 

Debate Topics About Health and Ethics

Explore the intersection of well-being and moral principles with these thought-provoking debate topics on health and ethics.

Debate Topics for High School About Ethics

  • Is capital punishment justified? 
  • Should euthanasia be legalized? 
  • Is animal testing ethical? 
  • Do social media companies restrict free speech? 
  • Should cloning be permitted? 

Debate Topics for High School About Health

  • Should vaccinations be mandatory for all? 
  • Is mental health sufficiently prioritized in society? 
  • Should junk food be subject to taxation? 
  • Is the pharmaceutical industry profit-driven?
  • Can technology effectively address health challenges?

Debate Topics About Culture and Entertainment

Delve into the vibrant and ever-evolving landscape of culture and entertainment with these diverse debate topics designed to spark lively discussions.

Funny Debate Topics for High School and Middle School

  • Are cats superior to dogs as pets? 
  • Is pineapple an acceptable topping for pizza?
  • Should superheroes serve as role models? 
  • Can video games qualify as a sport? 
  • Is intelligence more valuable than humor? 
  • Is cereal soup? 
  • Should socks be worn with sandals? 
  • Is water wet? 
  • Is a hot dog a sandwich? 
  • Should pants be worn at the waist or ankles? 

Debate Topics for High School About Pop Culture

  • Do Celebrities Have a Responsibility to Be Role Models? 
  • Is Binge-Watching TV Shows Harmful?
  • Should Music with Explicit Lyrics Be Banned? 
  • Is Social Media Creating Unrealistic Life Expectations?
  • Can Video Games Be Considered Art? 
  • Do Reality TV Shows Reflect Reality? 
  • Is TikTok a Positive Influence on Youth Culture? Should Fan Fiction be Considered Legitimate Literature? 
  • Are Remakes and Reboots Ruining Classic Films and TV Shows? 
  • Is Cancel Culture Justified?

Debate Topics About High School About Education

Engage with critical educational issues and ideas through these carefully selected debate topics tailored for high school students.

  • Should uniforms be mandatory in schools? 
  • Is homework beneficial or harmful? 
  • Should school start times be later? 
  • Can online learning replace traditional classrooms?
  • Should schools ban junk food? Is a college education worth the cost? 
  • Should vocational training be favored over traditional college education?
  • Are standardized tests effective in measuring student ability? 
  • Should schools incorporate life skills into their curriculum?
  • Is homeschooling a preferable alternative to traditional schooling? 

Tips on How to Improve Your Debating Skills

Debating enhances critical thinking, communication, and persuasion, with key improvement strategies including active listening for effective counterarguments and confident, clear presentation of your points. The following are core strategies for strengthening your debating skills:

Research Thoroughly

Before engaging in a debate, thoroughly research the topic at hand. Familiarize yourself with both sides of the argument, gather relevant facts, statistics, and evidence to support your points, and anticipate counterarguments.

Practice Active Listening

Effective debating requires not only presenting your own arguments persuasively but also actively listening to your opponent's points. Pay close attention to what they're saying, identify their key arguments, and be prepared to respond thoughtfully.

Develop Strong Arguments

Construct clear, concise, and logical arguments to support your position. Use evidence, examples, and reasoning to strengthen your points and make them more persuasive. Avoid relying solely on emotional appeals or unsupported assertions.

Refute Counterarguments

Anticipate potential counterarguments from your opponent and prepare responses to refute them. Address opposing viewpoints directly, acknowledge valid points, and offer compelling rebuttals supported by evidence.

Maintain Civility and Respect

Debating is a constructive exchange of ideas, so it's essential to maintain civility and respect towards your opponent. Avoid personal attacks, derogatory language, or disrespectful behavior, and focus on the substance of the arguments.

Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Effective communication is key to successful debating. Work on improving your public speaking skills, including voice modulation, articulation, and body language, to convey your arguments confidently and persuasively.

Practice Debating Regularly

Like any skill, debating improves with practice. Take advantage of opportunities to participate in debates, whether in school, community, or online forums. Practice debating different topics, engage with diverse viewpoints, and seek feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Stay Informed

Stay updated on current events, social issues, and developments in areas of interest. Being well-informed allows you to engage in debates on a wide range of topics and contribute more effectively to discussions.

Embrace Constructive Feedback

Be open to receiving feedback from peers, coaches, or judges on your debating performance. Use feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow, identifying strengths to build on and areas for improvement.

Reflect and Learn

After each debate, take time to reflect on your performance. Consider what went well, what could have been done differently, and how you can continue to refine your debating skills. Learning from each experience will help you become a more effective debater over time.

By implementing these tips and strategies, you can strengthen your debating skills and become a more confident and persuasive communicator. Whether you're debating in a formal setting or engaging in discussions in everyday life, honing your debating skills will serve you well in effectively expressing your viewpoints and influencing others.

The following are some frequently asked questions about debate topics for students.

1. What Are Some Engaging Debate Topics Suitable for High School Students?

Engaging debate topics can cover a wide range of issues for high school students, from politics and ethics to technology and pop culture. Some examples include discussions on the importance of environmental conservation, the impact of social media on society, the ethics of genetic engineering, and the role of government in regulating technology.

2. What Are the Good Debate Topics for Middle School?

Middle school students can enjoy debating topics that are relevant to their age group and interests. Examples of good debate topics for middle school include discussions on school uniform policies, the benefits and drawbacks of social media use among teenagers, the importance of recycling and environmental conservation, and the impact of video games on young minds.

3. What Are Some Examples of Current Events That Can Be Debated in High School Settings?

Current events provide a rich source of debate topics for high school students. Some examples include discussions on climate change and environmental policy, gun control and school safety measures, immigration reform and refugee policies, the role of social media in politics, and healthcare access and affordability.

4. Can You Provide Some Guidance on Selecting Age-Appropriate Debate Topics for High School?

When selecting debate topics for high school students, it's important to consider their maturity level, interests, and knowledge base. Topics should be relevant to their lives and experiences but also challenging enough to stimulate critical thinking and discussion. 

It’s best to avoid overly controversial topics for students. Instead, choose intellectually stimulating questions that are age-appropriate in terms of complexity and sensitivity. Be sure to consider debaters’ maturity level, interests, and knowledge base to foster engaging and respectful discussions.

Final Thoughts

Debate is like a superpower for your brain, letting you boost your critical thinking and make your communication skills seriously sharp. When you explore debate topics for students, especially those focusing on crucial societal issues, you're given the chance to throw your ideas into the ring, defend them, and maybe even change your mind along the way.

Teachers are always on the lookout for the best debate topics that fit just right for high schoolers, making sure everyone's pumped to get involved and see things from different angles. This isn't just about winning an argument; it's about getting curious, understanding where others are coming from, and learning a ton in the process.

So, whether you're stepping up to the debate stage in high school or middle school, jumping into these discussions is a game-changer. It's all about growing your skills, thinking on your feet, and getting ready to tackle the big, wild world out there with confidence.

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20 Debate Topics About Education

Debate Topics About Education

A topic which is guaranteed to stimulate passionate debate in your class is education. After all, education issues have the potential to directly affect your students and their futures. In this post, you will find 20 debate topics about education that you can use in your debate class. These are suitable for middle school students, high school students, and adults.

Debate Topics About Education

Here are 20 debate topics about education. All the topics below are formed as a statement so ask your students if they agree or disagree with the statements below.

  • School uniforms are important at school.
  • Education should be free for everyone.
  • All student loan debts should be forgiven.
  • Private schools are better than public schools.
  • Tuition fees are too expensive.
  • Homework is an important part of education.
  • All exams should be replaced with coursework.
  • School meals should be free for all.
  • Teachers should have to wear a school uniform.
  • Boys and girls should be taught separately.
  • Cell phones should be allowed in the classroom.
  • All students should learn at least one foreign language.
  • Homeschooling is just as good as traditional schooling.
  • School vacations should be shortened to allow more school days.
  • Detention should be abolished in schools.
  • Social media should be banned in schools.
  • Security guards should be in all schools.
  • University should be compulsory for all.
  • Playing games in the classroom is important.
  • Science is a more important subject than art.

Debate Topics About Education

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 55 great debate topics for any project.

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General Education

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A debate is a formal discussion about a topic where two sides present opposing viewpoints. Debates follow a specific structure: each side is given time to speak either for or against the topic at hand.

Many students study debate in high school to improve their speaking skills. As a debater, you learn how to clearly structure and present an argument. The skills you develop as a debater will help you on everything from a college admissions interview to a job presentation.

Selecting debate topics is one of the most important parts of debating. In this article, we’ll explain how to select a good debate topic and give suggestions for debate topics you can use.

How to Select Good Debate Topics

A good debate topic is one that lets the participants and the audience learn about both sides of an issue. Consider the following factors when selecting a debate topic:

Interest: Are you interested in the topic? Would the topic be interesting to your fellow classmates, as well as to the audience listening to the debate? Selecting a topic that you’re interested in makes the preparation part of the debate more exciting , as well as the debate more lively.

Argument Potential: You want to choose a debate topic that has solid argument potential. If one side is clearly right, or if there isn’t a lot of available information, you’ll have a hard time crafting a solid debate.

Availability of Data: Data points make an argument more robust. You’ll want to select a topic with lots of empirical data that you can pull from to bolster your argument.

Now that we know how to select a debate topic, let’s look at a list of good debate topics.

Debate Topics Master List

If you’re searching for your next debate topic, here are some suggestions.

Social and Political Issues Debate Topics

  • All people should have the right to own guns.
  • The death penalty should be abolished.
  • Human cloning should be legalized.
  • All drugs should be legalized.
  • Animal testing should be banned.
  • Juveniles should be tried and treated as adults.
  • Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity today.
  • Violent video games should be banned.
  • The minimum wage should be $15 per hour.
  • All people should have Universal Basic Income.
  • Sex work should be legal.
  • Countries should be isolationist.
  • Abortion should be banned.
  • Every citizen should be mandated to perform national public service.
  • Bottled water should be banned.
  • Plastic bags should be banned.

Education Debate Topics

  • Homework should be banned.
  • Public prayer should not be allowed in schools.
  • Schools should block sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram on their computers.
  • School uniforms should be required.
  • Standardized testing should be abolished.
  • All students should have an after-school job or internship.
  • School should be in session year-round.
  • All high school athletes should be drug tested.
  • Detention should be abolished.
  • All student loan debt should be eliminated.
  • Homeschooling is better than traditional schooling.
  • All schools should have armed security guards.
  • Religion should be taught in schools.
  • All schools should be private schools.
  • All students should go to boarding schools.
  • Sexual education should be mandatory in schools.
  • Public college should be tuition free.
  • All teachers should get tenure.
  • All school districts should offer school vouchers.

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Health Debate Topics

  • Healthcare should be universal.
  • Cosmetic procedures should be covered by health insurance.
  • All people should be vegetarians.
  • Euthanasia should be banned.
  • The drinking age should be 18.
  • Vaping should be banned.
  • Smoking should be banned in all public places.
  • People should be legally required to get vaccines.
  • Obesity should be labeled a disease.
  • Sexual orientation is determined at birth.
  • The sale of human organs should be legalized.
  • Birth control should be for sale over the counter.

Technology Debate Topics

  • Social media has improved human communication.
  • The development of artificial intelligence will help humanity.
  • Individuals should own their own DNA.
  • Humans should invest in technology to explore and colonize other planets.
  • Governments should invest in alternative energy sources.
  • Net neutrality should be restored.
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should be encouraged or banned.
  • Alternative energy can effectively replace fossil fuels.
  • Cell phone radiation is dangerous and should be limited.

How to Prepare for a Debate

Once you’ve selected your debate topic, the next step is to prepare for your debate. Follow these steps as you get ready to take the podium.

Read Your Evidence

The most important step to building your debate confidence is to familiarize yourself with the evidence available. You’ll want to select reputable sources and use empirical data effectively.

The more well read on your topic you are, the better you’ll be able to defend your position and anticipate the other side’s arguments.

Anticipate the Other Side’s Arguments

As part of your debate, you’ll need to rebut the other side’s arguments. It’s important to prepare ahead of time to guess what they’ll be talking about. You’ll bolster your own side’s argument if you’re able to effectively dismantle what the other side is saying.

Plan to Fill Your Speech Time

Each speaker at a debate is limited to a certain amount of time. You should plan to use every second of the time that you’re allotted. Make sure you practice your talking points so that you know you’re within the time frame. If you’re short, add in more evidence.

Practice to Build Confidence

It can be scary to take the stage for a debate! Practicing ahead of time will help you build confidence. Remember to speak slowly and clearly. Even if your argument is great, it won’t matter if no one can understand it.

Final Thoughts

Debate is a great way to hone your public speaking skills and get practice crafting and defending an argument. Use these debate topics if you're searching for a focus for your next debate.

What's Next?

Looking for ways to keep the debate going in non-academic life? Then you'll love our list of 101 "this or that" questions to argue over with your friends.

Thinking about how you can use your argumentative skills in a future career? Read up on the five steps to becoming a lawyer to see if that's a path you want to pursue.

Getting ready to take an AP test? Here’s a list of practice tests for every AP exam, including the AP literature exam .

It can be hard to schedule time to study for an AP test on top of your extracurriculars and normal classwork. Check out this article on when you need to start studying for your AP tests to make sure you’re staying on track.

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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

Ask a Question Below

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70+ Engaging Education Debate Topics

By Med Kharbach, PhD | Last Update: May 4, 2024

Education Debate Topics

Debates have been a cornerstone of intellectual and rhetorical development since ancient times. As educators, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to nurture a culture of debate in our classrooms.

Besides sharpen students’ speaking and rhetorica l skills, debates also enhance their research abilities and expand their knowledge base. In this era where education discussions and educational debates are increasingly important, the art of debating becomes an essential skill for our students.

Our focus today is on a variety of education debate topics especially suited for high school and college students. These topics are designed to spark deep, meaningful discussions and challenge students to articulate their viewpoints while respecting others’ perspectives.

From the latest in internet and technology debates to thought-provoking education and learning debates, and from culturally significant social debates to the pressing political debates of our time, this post covers it all.

Education Debate Topics for Students

The purpose of this post is to share with you this collection of debate topics that you can use as prompts to deep and meaningful discussions with your students (especially ideal for high school or college students). 

For practical reasons, I organized these debate topics into 3 broad categories: Internet and Technology debate topics,  Education and Learning debate topics, Social and Cultural debate topics, and Political debate topics.

Internet and Technology Debate Topics 

This category explores a range of contemporary issues that students encounter daily. From the impact of social media to the ethical considerations of artificial intelligence, these debate topics encourage students to critically analyze the technological world they are growing up in. They provide a platform for discussing how digital advancements are reshaping society, education, and personal interactions.

1. Should mobile phones be banned in schools?

2. Should parents limit kids’ screen time?

3. To what extent can parents control their kids’ mobile devices?

4. Should schools ban/allow access to social media websites ?

5. Should teens be allowed to play violent video games, why or why not?

6. Which do you prefer: to socialize online or hang out with friends in real life?

7. Are social media websites making people asocial?

8. Spending more time online makes people dumb/smart.

9. The Internet is eliminating more jobs than it provides.

10. Using the Internet for help with homework is cheating.

11. Technology is revolutionizing our life. Yes or no and why.

12. Kids should be allowed to interact with digital technology from an early age.

13. Artificial intelligence technology encourages cheating.

14. Robots will soon take all human jobs.

15. Self-driving cars should be banned.

16. Laws still have not caught up with cyber-crimes.

Education Debate Topics

Related: 70 of the most controversial topics of our time

Education and Learning Debate Topics 

This category delves into various aspects of the educational system, questioning its current state and future direction. Topics range from the value of academic degrees to the effectiveness of different teaching methods. These debates challenge students to think about the role of education in shaping individuals and consider how it can be adapted to meet the needs of the 21st century.

17. What is the real value of academic education?

18. Are academic degrees worth the pain and hassle?

19. Should higher education be totally free? Why or why not?

20. Online academic and scholarly literature should be/shouldn’t be free. Why?

21. Post-pandemic classrooms are different from the pre-pandemic ones. Do you agree?

22. 21st century teaching/education/schools/classrooms are different. Do you agree?

23. What skills should every 21st century teacher master?

24. What do you think of school segregation?

25. School staff and teachers should be allowed to carry guns.

26. Which do you prefer studying at home, in class, or in a hybrid (flipped) setting? Why?

27. What do you think about online teaching?

28. Should homework be abolished?

29. Athletics is the least important subject in school.

30. Smart students occupy the front rows in class.

31. Should Teachers have a uniform dress code?

32. Sex education should/shouldn’t be taught in schools.

33. Recess periods should be longer.

34. Standardized tests should be banned.

35. Students should be allowed to eat in class.

36. STEM subjects are more important than other school subjects.

37. Schools should/should not be given the freedom to ban books from their libraries.

38. Which do you prefer, reading a book or watching its movie version? Why?

39. Is reading non-fiction a waste of time?

Social and Cultural Debate Topics

This category includes topics that touch upon important societal themes like racial equality, gender roles, and ethical dilemmas. These debates encourage students to reflect on their values and the societal norms that shape our world. They offer a space for discussing how cultural and social dynamics influence individual and collective behavior. 

40. What do you think of defunding the police?

41. Social, racial and linguistic profiling increases crime rate.

42. Should the government control people’s choices of whether to have an abortion or not?

43. Should same sex marriage be legalized?

44. Does bad parenting contribute to teens’ delinquency?

45. Should people be allowed to wear religious symbols in public?

46. Are you with or against euthanasia and assisted suicide?

47. Are you with or against government policing of social media websites?

48. Does social media contribute to the rise of hate crimes and crimes against minorities?

49. Are you with or against social media websites collecting users personal data and selling it to advertising companies?

50. Eating meat unethical?

51. Money does not necessarily bring happiness.

52. Animals should be liberated from zoos.

53. Marijuana should/should not be legalized.

54. Women are paid less than men.

55. Dogs are the best pets.

56. What do you think of interracial marriage?

57. Drinking and smoking should/shouldn’t be banned.

58. What do you think of teen pregnancy?

59. Are you pro or against abortion and why?

60. Should people be free to choose the gender they want to identify with?

61. What’s the role of religion in our life?

62. Why are there different religions?

Education Debate Topics

Political Debate Topics 

This category addresses a wide array of political topics, from the debate over democracy’s efficacy to the role of governments in regulating personal freedoms. These topics encourage students to dissect political ideologies, policies, and their implications for society. Engaging in these debates helps students understand the complexity of political systems and the importance of informed civic participation.

63. Should democracies continue doing business with dictatorships and autocratic regimes?

64. When it comes to relations with foreign countries, which comes first:national interests or human rights and ethical considerations?

65. ‘Our’ political values are universal values that every nation should embrace. Discuss?

66. Democracy is the only viable political system.

67. The Constitution should/should not include references to religion.

68. Rich countries should/should not encourage immigration.

69. Monarchies are a waste of money and resources and should be abolished.

70. Voting should be compulsory for all citizens.

71. Nationalism and patriotism are harmful to global peace.

72. Politics should not infiltrate into sports.

73. Powerful countries should be allowed to bully their neighboring countries.

74. World peace is currently at stake. Why?

75. Countries should not interfere with the electoral systems of other countries.

76. Lobbying for foreign countries should be abolished.

77. Female politicians are better than their male counterparts.

Final thoughts

By engaging in education debates on topics ranging from internet and technology to education, social issues, and politics, students not only develop their argumentative skills but also learn to approach issues with an open mind and a critical perspective. Remember, the topics we discussed are not just for classroom debates but are also educational debate topics that can lead to broader discussions and understanding.

educational topics for debate

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Meet Med Kharbach, PhD

Dr. Med Kharbach is an influential voice in the global educational technology landscape, with an extensive background in educational studies and a decade-long experience as a K-12 teacher. Holding a Ph.D. from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Canada, he brings a unique perspective to the educational world by integrating his profound academic knowledge with his hands-on teaching experience. Dr. Kharbach's academic pursuits encompass curriculum studies, discourse analysis, language learning/teaching, language and identity, emerging literacies, educational technology, and research methodologies. His work has been presented at numerous national and international conferences and published in various esteemed academic journals.

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125 Good Debate Topics for High and Middle Schoolers in 2024

April 2, 2024

best debate topics for high school, middle school

What’s the most common phobia in the US? Snakes? Planes? Insects? Public speaking? Ding, ding, ding! If you chose the latter, you’re right on the money. According to an article from The Washington Post , 28% of responders fear public speaking above all else . While public speaking may be scary, it is a necessary and useful skill that benefits students in high school and beyond. Accordingly, one way for high school students to develop their public speaking skills is through the age-old activity of public forum debate, tackling hot-button debate topics from the use of ChatGPT on schoolwork to whether TikTok should be banned. (Fun fact: the art of debating dates back to the lessons of Socrates ! How’s that for time-tested?)

Debate provides the perfect opportunity for all students to practice essential life skills such as conducting research, structuring logical and persuasive arguments, and learning how to grapple with complex current issues. Additionally, debate can help build confidence, foster collaboration with peers, and enable students to become well-informed members of society. And who knows? A successful high school career on the debate team might just inspire a future career in public policy , international relations , or law .

What is the best topic for a debate?

Great question! The ideal debate topic should have relevance to students’ lives , be complex enough to sustain a lively discussion , and have a wealth of supporting “pro” and “con” evidence and data for students to draw upon to support their claims.

Before you choose a topic, you might want to do some preliminary research to see what is available. Remember, you can get creative! For example, if your topic is “Students should be allowed to wear pajamas to class,” you may have a hard time finding studies on that exact subject. Howevever, by researching similar topics, such as “ effect of clothing on productivity ” or “ effect of clothing on mental state,” you’d find a wealth of information to start building your argument.

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s get into some great debate topics for high schoolers (and some debate topics for middle schoolers, as well!).

Education Debate Topics for High School

  • Colleges should eliminate the use of standardized tests like the ACT and SAT for determining admissions.
  • Schools should allow students to use ChatGPT when writing essays and completing assignments.
  • All public schools should adopt a universal pass/fail grading system.
  • School districts should allow their libraries to ban certain books.
  • All students should have free access to higher education.
  • Students should be allowed to wear pajamas to class.
  • Students would benefit from a shorter school day.
  • Schools should eliminate physical education requirements.
  • All students should take a financial literacy course prior to graduating.
  • Schools should permit teachers to carry firearms for self-defense.
  • Teachers should prohibit the use of cell phones during school hours.
  • High school classes should start later in the morning.
  • Health classes should be eliminated and left up to parents.
  • Schools should teach basic survival skills.
  • Schools should downsize humanities and arts departments in favor of STEM departments.
  • The Pledge of Allegiance is a form of propaganda.
  • Period products should be available for free in school bathrooms.

Government Debate Topics for High School

  • The government should lower the voting age to 16.
  • The US should adopt a universal healthcare system.
  • Censorship is sometimes justified in a democratic society.
  • Hate speech should be protected under freedom of speech laws.
  • The government should provide reparations for slavery and systemic racism.
  • The US should implement a carbon tax to help combat climate change.
  • The United States should take steps to disarm its nuclear arsenal.
  • The US should abolish the electoral college and move to a popular vote system.
  • The government should allow prisoners to vote.
  • We should revise our penal system to focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
  • Everyone should be required to serve in the military.
  • Every state should have a sanctuary city.
  • Prisoners should only be allowed to stay on death row for one year.
  • We should abolish public access to the sex offender registry.
  • Parenting education should be mandatory.
  • The government should abolish religion-based federal holidays.
  • State and federal investigators should not be allowed to use DNA from genealogy databases.
  • Stay-at-home parents should receive compensation from the government.
  • Undocumented immigrants should have a clear path to amnesty.

Science and Technology Debate Topics for High School

  • It is the responsibility of social media companies to regulate hate speech on their platforms.
  • The government should ban the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces.
  • The government should hold social media companies responsible for overseeing the spread of misinformation on their platforms.
  • The government should regulate the use of social media to protect user privacy.
  • All social media companies should disclose what user data they’re collecting, and how it’s being used.
  • Social media is hindering our ability to form meaningful connections with others.
  • There should be an age restriction on using social media sites.
  • The government should create guidelines for AI regulation to prevent widespread job loss in the workplace.
  • The government should have the power to regulate the content of online platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.
  • Sites like Twitter and Reddit should do away with anonymous posting.
  • We should require social media influencers to disclose sponsored content.
  • Artists who use AI to create their pieces should be banned from art contests and competitions.
  • Car companies are responsible for self-driving car accidents.
  • Electric cars are not sustainable.
  • Parents shouldn’t be allowed to post photographs of their children online without their consent.
  • You should be allowed to record anyone at any time, with or without their knowledge.

Health and Bioethics Debate Topics for High School

  • The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is never ethical.
  • The use of GMOs should be banned from all agriculture.
  • The cloning of humans is ethical.
  • The government should legalize all drugs, and tax them as it does cigarettes and alcohol.
  • Pharmacies should sell birth control over the counter.
  • We should ban animal testing for medical research.
  • Authorities should prohibit doctors from prescribing placebos to patients.
  • The US should legalize physician-assisted suicide.
  • We should require genetic testing for all newborns.
  • Patients should have the right to refuse medical treatments.
  • The government should regulate the use of pesticides and other chemicals in agriculture.
  • The government should mandate vaccines.
  • The US should invest more in renewable energy resources to combat climate change.          
  • Mail-order abortion pills should be available in every state.
  • All restaurants should be required to print calorie counts on their menus.
  • IVF embryos should be considered children.
  • Embalming bodies should be banned.
  • We should resurrect extinct species.                                                                                

Business Debate Topics for High School

  • The government should increase the minimum wage.
  • Universal basic income is necessary for a fair society.
  • The government should ban unpaid internships.
  • The government should regulate cryptocurrencies as they do other monies.
  • The government should provide incentives for companies to hire more women and minorities.
  • Companies should be required to disclose their gender pay gap.
  • The U.S. should adopt a flat tax system.
  • Companies’ boards should meet a set diversity quota.
  • All companies that are able should transition to a work-from-home model.
  • The government should provide financial incentives for companies to go green.
  • We should require companies to provide at least three months of paid parental leave to their employees, regardless of gender.
  • The government should force companies to disclose their carbon footprint.
  • Everyone should tip 20% at food service establishments.
  • Those who choose not to have children should be awarded an equivalent amount of paid leave.
  • Millionaires should be required to donate a certain amount of money per year to charitable organizations.
  • Commercial fishing should be banned.
  • Fashion companies should not be allowed to manufacture clothing overseas.

Pop Culture Debate Topics for High School

  • Reality TV portrays a distorted version of reality.
  • Binge-watching TV shows is harmful to our mental health.
  • Video games should have restrictions on the content they portray.
  • Cosplay is a form of cultural appropriation.
  • It is unethical for actors to play characters of different races and ethnicities.
  • Award shows like the Oscars should have a diversity quota they must meet.
  • Cancel culture is doing more harm than good.
  • Celebrities should be held to a higher standard of behavior than the general population.
  • Rap music is a positive influence on society.
  • The paparazzi is harmful to celebrities’ well-being.
  • Graphic novels are not literature.
  • Genre fiction is less valuable than literary fiction.

Fun Debate Topics

  • It is better to be well-versed in multiple topics than a specialist in one.
  • Emojis should be allowed in formal correspondence.
  • It is better to have the power of teleportation than that of invisibility.
  • Exclamation points have become overused in text and email.
  • Fast food restaurants should have a mandatory vegan option.
  • Natural talent is more important for success than hard work.
  • Cereal is technically a kind of soup.
  • Pineapples belong on pizza.
  • Marvel is a better superhero franchise than DC.
  • Toilet paper should be rolled over, rather than under.
  • Retired fashion trends should not return.
  • Hot dogs are sandwiches.

Debate Topics for Middle School

  • USDA regulators should ban junk food from school cafeterias.
  • School should take place year-round.
  • Schools should permit students to select classes based on their individual interests, rather than require all students to take the same classes.
  • Schools should require students to complete a set number of volunteer hours in order to graduate.
  • Single-gender schools are better than co-ed ones.
  • The US should raise the driving age to 18.
  • Children should earn a fixed amount for doing chores.
  • Students should grade their teachers, too.
  • Video games are a useful learning tool.
  • Schools should not have a dress code.
  • Teachers should not be allowed to give homework.
  • Pageants and beauty contests are harmful.
  • Pets should not be allowed at restaurants.
  • Recess should be required at all middle schools.

I’ve got my topic, now what?

Once you’ve selected your debate topic, it’s time to prepare. Preparation for a debate involves some key steps, all of which are necessary to ensuring your argument is as sound and convincing as possible.

Putting Together a Successful Debate Argument, Step by Step

1) conduct your research ..

Read widely and smartly. As you go, take organized notes, marking down the sources of each—these will be pivotal later, when you’re building your argument and require points of reference. Research the counterarguments you find as well.

2) Organize your thoughts in a coherent manner .

Look over the data you’ve collected and decide your stance. Firstly, you should be able to articulate your position in a single, simple sentence. Then, create an argument that progresses logically. What do you feel are the strongest arguments for your position? You might consider placing your strongest or most thought-provoking argument last so that it is freshest in your listener’s mind.

Additionally, to help your listeners follow along, use signposts to indicate the direction of your claim. (Think of this as building your thesis. “In this argument, I will cover points A, B, and C.”)

3) Write out what you want to say .

Outline the main points of your stance. Under each section, bullet point key pieces of evidence that support your claim. Once you have that, see if you can summarize the bullet point using a single word or phrase. This way, when you’re in the heat of the moment, you can glance down and use that phrase to spark your memory.

4) Anticipate what your opponents might say .

This is essential to crafting a foolproof argument. Firstly, try to look at the debate from the opposing team’s side. Then, ask yourself: If you were arguing from their side, what points would you make? What is the rational counterargument to your claim, and how can you refute it? Where possible, you want to preclude any chance your opponent might have of catching you off-guard.

5) Practice !

Run through what you want to say, and run through it again. Get out the recorder and listen to a recording of yourself. Does your argument make sense? Practice for speed, clarity, and flow. In addition, memorization will help you get rid of any jitters you might have in the moment.

Good Debate Topics—Final Thoughts

In conclusion, debate is an excellent way for high schoolers to hone their communication skills. Moreover, by implementing the strategies outlined here, students will be better prepared to tackle debates with confidence, assured that they’ve put in the work to convey their ideas effectively and with success.

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Lauren Green

With a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia University and an MFA in Fiction from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, Lauren has been a professional writer for over a decade. She is the author of the chapbook  A Great Dark House  (Poetry Society of America, 2023) and a forthcoming novel (Viking/Penguin).

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educational topics for debate

60 Debate Topics for High Schoolers

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What’s Covered:

What makes a good debate topic, good debate topics for teens.

  • Where to Get Feedback on Your Debate Topics

Learning to view, think, and discuss ideas from contrasting viewpoints builds a host of skills that will benefit high schoolers both in and out of the classroom—including improving public speaking, reinforcing listening, and sharpening research. Good debate topics for high school students are key to lively discussion and an engaged classroom; they’re issues that students care about. 

A good debate topic for high school is one that inspires students to think and learn about both sides of the issue. There are a few factors to consider when searching for good debate topics for high school students.

  • Clear Idea: A good debate topic clearly, simply, and specifically states an often complex idea that students can argue the affirmative (pro) side of and the negative (con) side of.
  • Interest: The more interesting the topic is, the more engaged and excited students are to take positions and defend them. 
  • Passion: Topics that students feel strongly about work well. If students are super-passionate about a particular issue, it can challenge them to see both sides of the argument. 
  • Argument: Good debate topics do not have a clear “right” answer—rather, they have opposing views that participants can make persuasive arguments in favor of or against. 
  • Evidence: The availability of evidence and data is key to a good debate topic; without them, participants are merely stating a personal position on a topic. 
  • Avoid Cliches: There are a handful of topics that seem to always materialize for debates and can cause students to lose interest. 

educational topics for debate

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  • Are the arts an important aspect of education? 
  • Should we make financial education mandatory? 
  • Should students attend school year-round? 
  • Should schools punish students for bullying that occurs outside of school?
  • Will computers replace teachers in the future?
  • Should students grade their teachers?
  • Should all high school sports become gender-neutral?
  • Is a college education as valuable as it once was? 
  • Are student loans exploitative? 
  • Is it time to eliminate standardized tests? 

Science and Technology

  • Is social media making us less social?
  • Is Google the best search engine or just the one we’re accustomed to using? 
  • Is Android better than iOS? 
  • Will technology save the world or destroy it? 
  • Can the law keep pace with technology?
  • Is the future of school online?
  • Will cryptocurrencies replace cash?   
  • Is technology taking jobs or creating them? 
  • Should every American have the right to access the internet? 
  • Are electronic libraries more equitable than traditional ones? 

Government and Politics

  • Should the government make vaccinations mandatory?
  • Is it time for Supreme Court justices to have term limits? 
  • Should we make voting mandatory?
  • Should we make all drugs legal?
  • Is it time to decriminalize sex work? 
  • Is our privacy more important than national security?
  • Is it fair to take the right to vote away from felons? 
  • Should we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour?
  • Should the government provide universal basic income? 
  • Is providing healthcare the job of the government?
  • Can governments implement policies that will actually combat climate change?   
  • Should we allow the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports?
  • Should we remove racial epithets from books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ?
  • Can the U.S. achieve gender equality?
  • Is nationalism beneficial or dangerous? 
  • Does religion do more harm than good?
  • Should we bar police from using lethal force?
  • Do we still need the institution of marriage? 
  • Can the U.S. ever achieve racial equality?
  • Are we living in a dystopian society?
  • Should we punish or help drug addicts? 
  • Is bad parenting responsible for the rise in childhood obesity?
  • Should we sell birth control over the counter? 
  • Is it time to ban cigarettes and vaping? 
  • Are alternative medicines helpful or harmful?
  • Should we ban businesses from advertising to children?
  • Is the eight-hour workday outdated? 
  • Should we treat corporations like people?
  • Should corporations be involved in politics? 
  • Is remote work the future of employment? 
  • Is gaming a sport? 
  • Are books a better entertainment option than television?
  • Should social media companies censor content? 
  • Is civil disobedience the most effective form of protest? 
  • Should we ban football? 
  • Should Black Friday sales start on Thanksgiving Day?
  • What better determines success: skill or will?
  • Should you feel guilty for killing zombies during the zombie apocalypse? 
  • Should you choose pizza toppings based on taste or nutrition? 
  • Are hot dogs sandwiches?

Where to Get Feedback on Your Debate Arguments 

A vital part of debate preparation is to test your arguments to ensure they specifically address the topic and collectively form a cohesive point. Make sure you consider both sides of the argument to better be prepared for a rebuttal.

Before stepping up to argue your side of the issue, test your argument on CollegeVine’s free peer review essay tool to get feedback for free from a peer!

As you get ready for college, it is important to understand how your extracurriculars, like debate, factor into your chances of acceptance. Check out our free chancing calculator to find the best-fit school for you.

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30 Debate Topics To Engage Every Student

educational topics for debate

Introduction

Teaching students how to have meaningful discussions is a skill that all educators want to master. One great way to get students to talk and think critically in the classroom is to introduce debatable topics .

Table of Content

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Power of Debatable Topics
  • 3. Funny Debate Topics
  • 4. Fun Debate Topics
  • 5. Engaging Debate Topics
  • 6. Debatable Questions for Critical Thinking
  • 7. The best debate question
  • 8. How to Choose the Best Debate Topic
  • 9. Conclusion

The Power of Debatable Topics

B efore we get into the list of debate topics, let's discuss the significance of debatable questions in the educational field. Why are debatable questions so important in education? Debates help students think critically, communicate effectively, and see different sides of complex issues. They give students a chance to share their own ideas, support them with evidence, and learn to persuade others. And most importantly, debates make learning fun and memorable, instilling a love of knowledge.

Whether you're a teacher looking for new ideas or a student looking for inspiration for your next debate competition, here's a list of 50 fun, funny, and thought-provoking debate topics that will engage all learners

Funny Debate Topics

1) Should pizza be considered a breakfast food?

2) Is it better to have a pet Dinosaur or a pet dragon?

3) Who would win in a dance-off: zombies or mummies?

4) Do aliens exist, and have they ever tried pizza?

5) Is it okay to wear pajamas to school?

Fun Debate Topics

1) Should schools have a "no homework" policy?

2)Is it better to read the book or watch the movie adaptation?

3) Cats vs. dogs: Which make better pets?

4) Is time travel possible, and would you use it?

5) Should video games be considered a sport?

Engaging Debate Topics

1) Should cell phones be allowed in classrooms?

2) Is climate change primarily caused by human activity?

3) Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

4) Is social media more harmful than beneficial?

5) Should genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be banned?

6) Is space exploration worth the cost?

7) Is it ethical to use animals for scientific research?

8) Should the school year be extended?

9) Is a vegetarian or vegan diet healthier?

10) Should the death penalty be abolished?

Debatable Questions for Critical Thinking

1) Is censorship in art and media justifiable?

2) Should college athletes be paid?

3) Is the use of drones in warfare ethical?

4) Should the government regulate the internet more?

5) Is it ethical to clone humans?

6) Should schools teach financial literacy?

7) Is the use of nuclear energy safe?

8) Is it ethical to use AI in healthcare decision-making?

9) Should there be a universal basic income?

10) Is graffiti art or vandalism?

The best debate question

Is Atheneum Global the best institute to get your online Teacher Training Courses ?

Is this even a debate? Yes, obviously Atheneum Global is the best!

we deliver the most affordable and quality Teacher Training courses!

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How to Choose the Best Debate Topic

Choosing the right debate topic is essential for a lively and productive discussion. Here are a few tips:

Relevance : Pick topics that are important to your students and that they can relate to. This will help them stay engaged.

Balance : Include a mix of serious and lighthearted topics in your debates. This will appeal to a wider range of students with different interests.

Controversy : Choose topics that have multiple sides and that are genuinely debatable. Avoid topics with clear, one-sided answers.

Complexity : Select topics that encourage students to think critically and analyze the issue in depth. Avoid overly simplistic topics.

Current Events : Incorporate current events or contemporary issues into your debate topics . This will keep the discussions relevant and up-to-date.

Debating is a great way for students to learn. It helps them to think critically, to see different sides of an issue, and to communicate their ideas effectively. Whether you're a teacher or a student, here are 30 debate topics that are sure to spark interesting conversations.

Some of the topics are funny, some are fun, and some are more serious. But all of them are thought-provoking and engaging. So pick a topic, gather your arguments, and get ready to debate!

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100 great education debate topics, bob cardens.

  • September 2, 2022
  • Essay Topics and Ideas

Education Debate Topics and Ideas to get you started. It can be difficult to choose an education debate topic that is both interesting and relevant, but this list of 100 education debate topics should help get you started!

Education debates can cover a wide range of topics, from early childhood education all the way to the college level. Whether you are looking for debate topics for a class or for a public forum, there is sure to be an education debate topic on this list that interests you!

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What You'll Learn

Education Debate Topics

  • Is homeschooling a viable option for all children?
  • Are charter schools better than public schools?
  • Should school uniforms be mandatory in all schools?
  • Are private schools better than public schools?
  • Should colleges and universities be free to attend?
  • Is online education as effective as traditional classroom education?
  • Are standardized tests an accurate measure of a student’s knowledge?
  • Should the No Child Left Behind Act be reformed or repealed?
  • Is year-round schooling a good idea?
  • Are charter schools unfairly funded?
  • Do charter schools create a two-tiered education system?
  • Are private schools creating a classist society?
  • Do standardized tests put too much pressure on students?
  • Should the Common Core State Standards be adopted by all states?
  • Is the Education Savings Account program a good way to fund education?
  • Should the government get out of the business of funding education altogether?
  • Is sex education a necessary part of the public school curriculum?
  • Should creationism be taught in public schools?
  • Should evolution be taught in public schools?
  • What role should religion play in public schools?
  • Are for-profit colleges and universities bad for students?
  • Is college tuition too high?
  • Should student loan debt be forgiven?
  • Are online courses as good as traditional courses?
  • Is tenure a good thing or a bad thing for educators?
  • Should teachers be armed in the classroom?
  • Is corporal punishment an effective form of discipline?
  • Are charter schools held to different standards than public schools?
  • Do private schools have an unfair advantage in college admissions?
  • Should affirmative action be banned in college admissions?
  • Is the current system of college admissions fair?
  • Should standardized test scores be a factor in college admissions decisions?
  • Should colleges and universities consider race or ethnicity in their admissions decisions?
  • Should legacy preferences be eliminated from the college admissions process?
  • Do for-profit colleges and universities take advantage of students?
  • Should the federal government do more to regulate for-profit colleges and universities?
  • Is distance learning a good option for all students?
  • Do homeschooled students have an unfair advantage in college admissions?
  • Should the government provide free community college for all Americans?
  • Is vocational training a better option than a four-year degree for some students?
  • Should all students be required to complete community service hours before graduating high school?
  • Arecharter schools held to different academic standards than public schools?
  • Should all students be required to take a gap year before attending college?

Educational Debate Topic Ideas

  • Should schools be teaching vocational skills instead of academic subjects?
  • Should the school day start later?
  • Should students be able to choose their own classes?
  • Should schools ban homework?
  • Should standardized tests be abolished?
  • Are charter schools a good idea?
  • Is homeschooling a good option for families?
  • Should Religion be taught in schools?
  • Are single-sex schools better than co-ed schools?
  • Should all schools be bilingual?
  • How can we make sure all children have access to quality education?
  • Is it necessary to go to college to be successful in life?
  • How can we reduce the drop-out rate in high schools?
  • What should be done about overcrowded classrooms?
  • Is corporal punishment an effective way to discipline children?
  • Are after-school activities important for students?
  • What is the best way to deal with bullying in schools?
  • How can we make sure all children receive a well-rounded education?
  • What is the best way to teach childrenabout sex education?
  • Should schools be teaching financial literacy?
  • How can we make sure all students have access to technology?
  • What is the best way to deal with cheating in schools?
  • Should schools be teaching character education?
  • How can we make sure all children are physically active?
  • Should schools be doing more to promote healthy eating habits?
  • What is the best way to deal with disruptive students in class?
  • How can we improve teacher training and professional development?
  • What is education policy in your country?
  • Is your country’s education system effective? Why or why not?

Controversial Education Debate Topics

  • Is homeschooling a good or bad idea?
  • Should schools be allowed to teach creationism alongside evolution?
  • Is it necessary for all students to learn a foreign language?
  • Should the school day be shorter or longer?
  • Should students be required to wear uniforms?
  • Are charter schools a good or bad idea?
  • Should schools be more focused on academics or on extracurricular activities?
  • How much homework should students be given?
  • Should teachers be armed in schools?
  • Should prayer be allowed in school?
  • Are year-round schools a good idea?
  • Is it a good idea to have standardized tests?
  • Should sex education be taught in schools?
  • Should evolution be taught in schools?
  • Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?
  • Should students be allowed to grade their own work?
  • Is competition among students a good thing or a bad thing?

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Using Debate as an Educational Tool

Classroom debates are closely connected to communication standards in all grades, and the predictable structure helps students express themselves.

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In a divided society, debate may seem like the last strategy an educator would want to employ in the classroom. Many educators and young people alike envision the shouting matches often seen on political stages and fear having to speak about unfamiliar issues or feeling out of control. Too often, debate is reserved for those perceived as the “good kids” and the already confident speakers.

In fact, the structure and facilitation of debate make it safer than some other forms of communication for young people to engage in, because the rules encourage people to listen to different views. Bob Litan (2020) of the Brookings Institution defines debate as “structured, civil discussion” that involves at least two sides to an issue, focuses on substance, features time limits for each side, and compels speakers to persuade an audience about how to make informed choices, incorporate new information, and identify ways to reach consensus. He continues, “[T]he ability to discuss formally, but in a civil way, multiple sides of any topic is a skill that can be learned and, once learned, confers substantial benefits to individuals and society” (p. 87). He quotes commentator Van Jones: “Debate is the lifeblood of democracy, after all. Disagreement is a good thing—even heated disagreement. Only in a dictatorship does everyone have to agree” (pp. 87–88).

Debate as an Educational Tool

Given Litan’s definition, it comes as no surprise that debate is one of the most comprehensive speaking formats for addressing standards across all grade levels. As early as 1st grade, learners are expected to respond to and build on comments from others, developing their skills to eventually become 12th graders who are expected by academic standards to “respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue, resolve contradictions, and determine what information is required to deepen investigation” (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). The ability to engage in healthy debate is valuable to preparing for future careers (particularly those that are innovative and entrepreneurial), securing jobs, challenging fake news, and encouraging civic engagement and interest in social issues (Litan, 2020).

In addition, careful and deliberate listening is one of the most important capabilities taught through debate because it is impossible to participate in a debate without structured note taking and the ability to simultaneously listen and synthesize. These benefits are the product of debates that are geared toward fostering understanding through clear facilitation and should be viewed as a protocol for conversations about contrast and courage. Classroom debates do not, and should not, look like present-day debates by candidates seeking public office.

Book cover art for Amplify Student Voices

When facilitated equitably, debate can give young people the confidence and skill needed to navigate places of power in the future. When girls and young people of color feel confident that they know how to speak and participate, it becomes easier to quiet any internalized beliefs that their voice is somehow “less than” or the nerves that accompany high-stakes situations involving people in power. According to debate educators Melissa Graham and Les Lynn, English language learners particularly benefit from debate skills to advocate for their needs and their families as well as to counteract the very real fear of humiliation in front of their peers. By requiring debaters to research and debate both sides of an issue, they are less likely to view others as “the enemy” and more likely to remain open-minded, learning to ask questions before judgment and to explain their points so that everyone can understand them (Litan, 2020).

Our world is burdened with deep-seated institutional, interpersonal, and internalized oppression. In such an environment, preparing young people to understand diverse viewpoints, develop empathy, and navigate inequities in service of a healthier democracy is worth the work.

There are many benefits of debating:

  • Promotes taking a perspective and understanding diverse viewpoints
  • Encourages empathy and open-mindedness
  • Develops confidence
  • Promotes organization and structure in thinking, writing, and speaking
  • Provides practice in persuasive and argumentative writing
  • Furthers literacy skills
  • Expands academic language
  • Enables challenging fake news
  • Builds research skills
  • Improves ability to explain concepts clearly
  • Refines questioning skills
  • Fosters careful and deliberate listening
  • Develops note-taking skills
  • Enables adapting to different audiences
  • Contributes to career and leadership preparation
  • Improves collaboration and teamwork skills
  • Enhances ability to interview for and secure jobs
  • Encourages civic engagement
  • Develops interest in and understanding of social issues
  • Promotes advocacy and self-advocacy skills
  • Supports participation in a healthier democracy

Equity Through Debate

When done well, debate can be a powerful tool to address equity and promote a classroom environment that is inclusive and healing. We’ve already noted its positive effects for girls, young people of color, and English language learners, in particular. With a structured protocol that includes clear guidelines for engagement, debate makes the “rules of the game” visible, enabling everyone to know what to expect from social interactions that are often hidden and implicit.

Structure can bring a sense of safety and protection for those who struggle socially. For people on the autism spectrum, for instance, knowing the flow and order of a conversation, as well as where and how they can participate, takes the guesswork out of an already stressful process of navigating complex social situations. The back-and-forth protocol structure itself can counteract the tendency for one group to interrupt another (e.g., for men to interrupt women), and the templated approach for prepared speeches makes the conversation more accessible when English is not the debater’s first language. Having a predictable routine brings a sense of safety and comfort when discussing challenging and controversial issues, and debate topics can help clarify the central issue being discussed.

The project-based learning organization PBLWorks identifies knowledge of students, cognitive demand, literacy, and shared power as “four equity levers” in helping every young person develop, participate, and persist through challenging tasks (Field, 2021). Here we make the connection between debate and these equity levers, and illustrate how debate can be used to address them:

  • Knowledge of students. Helping young people express their opinions and even craft their own debate topics makes it easier for educators to understand more about who young people are as individuals, which can be a challenge in large classes. Over time, debate topics also offer the opportunity for all learners (even the educators) to learn more about their own perspectives, cultural lenses, and biases, which is important for improving practice and strengthening relationships.
  • Cognitive demand. The process of debate is in itself cognitively demanding, and clear structures and practice over time can help young people engage in complex intellectual work and surpass preconceived notions about their ability.
  • Literacy. When implemented effectively, debate drives literacy development, as long as careful attention is paid to make sure debaters use evidence that includes culturally relevant texts and debate rounds include diverse viewpoints and language practices.
  • Shared power. What debate does especially well is to promote shared power in the classroom, with young people leading conversations and teamwork, actively shaping the learning process, and supporting everyone’s learning, even that of the teacher.

By activating these four levers, debate can be an equitable teaching practice that transforms classrooms into exciting places to challenge assumptions.

Debate and Intersectionality

Whereas storytelling is a more effective means for young people to discuss their personal identities, debate is an ideal way to acknowledge the layers of complexity behind a controversial issue. It prompts young people to better understand the history and context behind worldviews, question whether policies and actions marginalize people, and propose plans for how to address marginalization. Debate topics can directly consider how forms of oppression intersect and ask students to consider the impact of those intersections, which is at the heart of Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality. Rather than resorting to personal attacks, young people are encouraged to take a macro look at controversial issues and movements, such as how women of color are portrayed in media or how social movements can best advance the rights of people at the intersection of race, gender, and disability.

When topics are especially sensitive, it certainly becomes a challenge to send both the message “Your perspective and experience are valid and should be heard” and the message “It is important to be able to understand and articulate how others view the world.” In these cases, topics to avoid are ones in which harmful arguments cannot be avoided.

When Debate Is Inequitable

Like any other instructional approach, debate is not inherently equitable. Inequitable debate is characterized by some voices dominating others, people being interrupted, hurtful insults and attacks, personal emotions overwhelming the conversation, and yelling, with ideas getting lost in the chaos.

Avoiding controversial and challenging conversations in the classroom is also inequitable, however, because it prevents learners from directly engaging with different viewpoints (and teaching them how to navigate difference). A classroom where everyone always has to agree promotes an echo chamber and sends the message that you don’t belong if you don’t agree.

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. The University of Chicago Legal Forum 140, 39–167.

Field, S. (2021, March 11). 4 equity levers in project based learning . PBLWorks.

Litan, R. (2020). Resolved: Debate can revolutionize education and help save our democracy. Brookings Institution Press. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects .

From   Amplify Student Voices: Equitable Practices to Build Confidence in the Classroom   by AnnMarie Baines, Diana Medina, and Caitlin Healy, Alexandria, VA: ASCD. © ASCD. All rights reserved.

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educational topics for debate

Are you looking for debate topics for your middle and high school students? Well, you have come to the right place. Check out our list of 120 debate topics for middle and high school students.

General Debate Topics 

  • Should we ban homework: does homework promote learning?
  • How essential is a college education?
  • Banning mobile devices (cell phones, smartphones) at schools: yes or no?
  • Is it appropriate to allow students to create their own curricula?
  • Is abortion murder?
  • Are violent video games appropriate entertainment for teenagers?
  • Does social media contribute to teenage suicide?
  • Does modern social media make people less socially active?
  • How should modern society respond to teenage pregnancies?
  • Is higher education a necessary prerequisite for an individual’s financial success in the future?

Topics Related to Education

  • Are private schools better than public schools?
  • Should education be privatized entirely?
  • Are student loans exploitative?
  • Does the traditional classroom address contemporary society’s needs?
  • Is allowing teachers to carry guns on campuses a good idea?
  • Does the contemporary grading system work?
  • Should college education be compulsory?
  • Is it appropriate to teach religion in schools?
  • Is homeschooling better than a public or private school education?
  • Is it fair to require that all students learn at least one foreign language?

Social Debate Topics

  • Does the contemporary policing of marginalized communities in the United States contribute to the criminalization of youth?
  • Should the death penalty be abolished in the United States?
  • Is it ethical to have an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy?
  • Does peer pressure absolve deliquent teens from cupabilty?
  • Will electronic databases fully substitute brick and mortar libraries?
  • Is cloning ethically acceptable?
  • Is the legalization of marijuana a food idea?
  • Should euthanasia be legalized?
  • Is there any reason to raise minimum wages?
  • Drug addicts: Do they need help or punishment?
  • Is nationalism beneficial or dangerous in the context of globalization?

Environmental Issues

  • Is climate change already irreversible?
  • Banning plastic bags and packaging: yes or no?
  • Are genetically modified foods a viable solution?
  • Banning zoos: yes or no?
  • How does tourism affect the environment?
  • Should there be more national parks in the United States?
  • Is banning fracking a good idea?
  • All people should become vegetarian.
  • What is organic farming’s role in agriculture’s future?
  • Are live animal exports ethically acceptable?

Political Debate Topics

  • Political campaigns should not be allowed to accept money from.
  • Democracy is the best form of government.
  • Is it appropriate for governments to limit their citizens’ freedom of speech?
  • Are taxes that increase at accelerating rates fair?
  • Limiting terms for U.S. senators and representatives brings more harm than good.
  • Former offenders should preserve their voting rights.
  • Modern patterns of incarceration that affect minorities more than whites contribute to racial inequality in the US.
  • Is it necessary for a political leader to be active on social media?
  • Is the US Constitution a living document?
  • Should the Supreme Court judges be appointed for predetermined fixed periods?

Debate Topics Related to Parenting

  • Should children use smartphones without parental supervision?
  • Teenage girls having access to birth control without parental supervision: yes or no?
  • Should parents decide which career their children will pursue?
  • Parents always treat their children fairly: yes or no?
  • Is it ethically permissible for parents to  pick the genders of their future children?
  • Gay couples are adopting children: pros and cons.
  • Should parents control their children’s activities on social media?
  • Is parental supervision the same as parental control?
  • Teenage children and completely autonomous decision-making: should parents allow this?
  • Is parental support essential for the future success of children?

Technology Topics

  • Will technology make people smarter?
  • Is artificial intelligence dangerous?
  • Will robots increase people’s quality of life?
  • How do technological advances influence us?
  • Will humans colonize another planet soon?
  • Can all cars become electric?
  • Does technology intensify human communication?
  • Recent developments in technology transform people’s interests: yes or no?
  • Can people save nature using technology (or destroy it)?
  • Do laws effectively keep up with changes in technology?
  • How can companies like Certbolt grow their ROI?

Healthcare Topics

  • Justifying the legalization of recreational marijuana: yes or no?
  • Is mandatory vaccination constitutional?
  • Alternative medicine and its impact on the future of healthcare.
  • Does technology promote our health?
  • Modern healthcare and antibiotics.
  • Is drug legalization a good idea?
  • Does globalization promote universal healthcare?
  • Should healthcare services for all citizens be fully funded by the government?
  • Should the government be allowed to force parents to take their sick children to the hospital?
  • Can competition improve the quality of healthcare services?

Debate Topics Related to Leisure

  • Is a summer vacation better than a winter vacation?
  • Encouraging teenagers to read books: are the outcomes encouraging?
  • Has technology changed the way young people spend their leisure time?
  • Has social media taken over our leisure time?
  • Can daily leisure time be a substitute for a yearly vacation?
  • Is leisure time essential for workplace effectiveness?
  • Playing video games during leisure time: pros and cons.
  • Has work-life balance changed with the advent of technology?
  • Has globalization and our increased mobility changed the way we view vacations?
  • Women spend their leisure time differently than men.

Debating Financial and Policy Matters

  • Can the U.S. government ensure the country’s financial stability?
  • How secure is mobile banking?
  • Does the credit industry promote or hinder economic development?
  • Is there any economic justification for wars?
  • Should wealthy people pay higher taxes than the poor?
  • How would lowering the voting age impact America’s future?
  • Mass incarceration and its impact on U.S. politics.
  • Mandatory financial education: pros and cons.
  • Should online financial advice be available for every citizen?
  • Can high profitability alone justify environmentally hazardous practices?

Debating Historical Matters

  • History is an important subject that all students should learn: yes or no?.
  • Is King Arthur a real historical figure or myth?
  • Knowledge of history enriches one’s worldview: yes or no?
  • What role did Britain play during the First World War?
  • How have different historians interpreted World War Two?
  • Was there any justification for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US?
  • How shoudl we interpret the Revolutionary War?
  • Ancient Roman culture versus contemporary culture.
  • History & its impact on the future.
  • Modern interracial conflicts evaluated from a historical perspective.

Topics for Fun Filled Debates

  • Are men stronger than women?
  • Daydreaming versus dreaming at night: which is better?
  • Communication between the sexes: do men and women have different approaches?
  • Choosing the best pizza topping: healthy versus tasty.
  • Do fairy tales affect children’s perception of reality?
  • Is living together before marriage appropriate nowadays?
  • Should teenagers get after-school jobs?
  • Gender and life expectancy: what factors explain life expectancy gaps?
  • From a historical perspective, are women smarter than men?

136 Persuasive Speech Topics for Students

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Debates tend to instantly engage students, but they can also sharpen their research and public speaking skills. No matter your reasons for using them, having debates in your classroom is a sure way to get your students thinking and talking.

You may require your students to research topics before debating them or even prepare speeches to state their point of view. Learning how to productively debate will improve your students' communication skills as they practice speaking and listening. These skills will serve them in college and the diverse career world beyond. 

Debate Topics

The following 50 debate topics  can be used in high school or advanced middle school classrooms. They are organized by genre and some can be modified for use in different subjects. Each item is listed in the form of a question to propose to your students that has at least two points of view.

Watch Now: Ideas for Great Classroom Debate Topics

Science and technology.

  • Should human cloning be banned?
  • Should renewable forms of energy be subsidized by the government?
  • Should the U.S. government fund a space mission to Mars?
  • Should social media comments be protected by free speech?
  • Should parents be allowed to choose their baby's gender?
  • Should animal testing be banned?
  • Should the U.S. government provide internet service to every citizen?
  • Are video games too violent for children?
  • Should the manufacturing of nuclear weapons be permitted?

Laws and Politics

  • Is it ever appropriate for the government to restrict freedom of speech?
  • Is democracy the best form of government?
  • Should citizens who do not vote be fined?
  • Is the right to bear arms a necessary constitutional amendment today?
  • Should the legal voting/driving/drinking age be lowered or raised?
  • Should a border fence be constructed between the U.S. and Mexico?
  • Should America give foreign aid to other countries?
  • Should drone attacks against specific targets be used for modern warfare?
  • Should affirmative action be abolished?
  • Should the  death penalty  be abolished?
  • Should microaggressions be punishable by law?
  • Should the cruel treatment of animals be illegal?

Social Justice

  • Should partial-birth abortion be illegal?
  • Should all parents be required to attend parenting classes before having a child?
  • Should parents be required to vaccinate their children?
  • Should mixed martial arts be banned?
  • Should celebrities be required to be positive role models?
  • Should people be fined for not recycling?
  • Are progressive tax rates just?
  • Should performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?
  • Should marijuana use be considered a crime?
  • Should every student be required to take a performing arts course?
  • Should homework be banned?
  • Should school uniforms be required?
  • Is year-round education is a good idea?
  • Should physical education be required of all high school students?
  • Should all students be required to perform community service?
  • Should schools block YouTube?
  • Should students be able to leave school grounds for lunch?
  • Are single-sex schools better for student learning and mental health?
  • Should schools punish cyberbullying that occurs outside of school?
  • Should teachers not be allowed to contact students through social media?
  • Should public prayer be allowed in schools?
  • Should high-stakes state testing be abolished?
  • Should poetry units be removed from the curriculum?
  • Is History (or another subject) actually an important subject in school?
  • Should schools be allowed to track students by academic level?
  • Should students be required to pass algebra to graduate?
  • Should students be graded on their handwriting?
  • Should all students be required to co-op?
  • Should the theory of creation be taught in schools?
  • Middle School Debate Topics
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The 10 Education Issues Everybody Should Be Talking About

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What issues have the potential to define—or re define—education in the year ahead? Is there a next “big thing” that could shift the K-12 experience or conversation?

These were the questions Education Week set out to answer in this second annual “10 Big Ideas in Education” report.

You can read about last year’s ideas here . In 2019, though, things are different.

This year, we asked Education Week reporters to read the tea leaves and analyze what was happening in classrooms, school districts, and legislatures across the country. What insights could reporters offer practitioners for the year ahead?

Some of the ideas here are speculative. Some are warning shots, others more optimistic. But all 10 of them here have one thing in common: They share a sense of urgency.

Accompanied by compelling illustrations and outside perspectives from leading researchers, advocates, and practitioners, this year’s Big Ideas might make you uncomfortable, or seem improbable. The goal was to provoke and empower you as you consider them.

Let us know what you think, and what big ideas matter to your classroom, school, or district. Tweet your comments with #K12BigIdeas .

No. 1: Kids are right. School is boring.

Illustration of a student who is bored in class

Out-of-school learning is often more meaningful than anything that happens in a classroom, writes Kevin Bushweller, the Executive Editor of EdWeek Market Brief. His essay tackling the relevance gap is accompanied by a Q&A with advice on nurturing, rather than stifling students’ natural curiosity. Read more.

No. 2: Teachers have trust issues. And it’s no wonder why.

BRIC ARCHIVE

Many teachers may have lost faith in the system, says Andrew Ujifusa, but they haven’t lost hope. The Assistant Editor unpacks this year’s outbreak of teacher activism. And read an account from a disaffected educator on how he built a coalition of his own. Read more.

No. 3: Special education is broken.

Conceptual Illustration of a special education puzzle with missing pieces

Forty years since students with disabilities were legally guaranteed a public school education, many still don’t receive the education they deserve, writes Associate Editor Christina A. Samuels. Delve into her argument and hear from a disability civil rights pioneer on how to create an equitable path for students. Read more.

No. 4: Schools are embracing bilingualism, but only for some students.

BRIC ARCHIVE

Staff Writer Corey Mitchell explains the inclusion problem at the heart of bilingual education. His essay includes a perspective from a researcher on dismantling elite bilingualism. Read more.

No. 5: A world without annual testing may be closer than you think.

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There’s agreement that we have a dysfunctional standardized-testing system in the United States, Associate Editor Stephen Sawchuk writes. But killing it would come with some serious tradeoffs. Sawchuk’s musing on the alternatives to annual tests is accompanied by an argument for more rigorous classroom assignments by a teacher-practice expert. Read more.

No. 6: There are lessons to be learned from the educational experiences of black students in military families.

BRIC ARCHIVE

Drawing on his personal experience growing up in an Air Force family, Staff Writer Daarel Burnette II highlights emerging research on military-connected students. Learn more about his findings and hear from two researchers on what a new ESSA mandate means for these students. Read more.

No. 7: School segregation is not an intractable American problem.

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Racial and economic segregation remains deeply entrenched in American schools. Staff Writer Denisa R. Superville considers the six steps one district is taking to change that. Her analysis is accompanied by an essay from the president of the American Educational Research Association on what is perpetuating education inequality. Read more.

No. 8: Consent doesn’t just belong in sex ed. class. It needs to start a lot earlier.

BRIC ARCHIVE

Assistant Editor Sarah D. Sparks looked at the research on teaching consent and found schools and families do way too little, way too late. Her report is partnered with a researcher’s practical guide to developmentally appropriate consent education. Read more.

No. 9: Education has an innovation problem.

BRIC ARCHIVE

Are education leaders spending too much time chasing the latest tech trends to maintain what they have? Staff Writer Benjamin Herold explores the innovation trap. Two technologists offer three tips for putting maintenance front and center in school management. Read more.

No. 10: There are two powerful forces changing college admissions.

BRIC ARCHIVE

Some colleges are rewriting the admissions script for potential students. Senior Contributing Writer Catherine Gewertz surveys this changing college admissions landscape. Her insights are accompanied by one teacher’s advice for navigating underserved students through the college application process. Read more.

Wait, there’s more.

Want to know what educators really think about innovation? A new Education Week Research Center survey delves into what’s behind the common buzzword for teachers, principals, and district leaders. Take a look at the survey results.

A version of this article appeared in the January 09, 2019 edition of Education Week as What’s on the Horizon for 2019?

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The US universities that allow protest encampments – and even negotiate

While semesters at other schools speed toward a violent close, several universities have sought a more amicable solution

F or about a week, the cluster of tents raised by students at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, stood in solidarity with Palestinian civilians in Gaza and with students protesting at other campuses across the US.

Then, on Tuesday, the tents quietly vanished from the grassy quad at the heart of campus. There were no riot-gear-clad crackdowns from police and no assaults from masked groups to spur disbandment. Instead, Brown chose a different path: it negotiated.

While semesters at other schools speed toward a violent close – complete with canceled classes and commencement celebrations, scenes of brutal yet unsuccessful attempts at quelling the protests, and aggression from opposing groups that has heightened already inflamed tensions – Brown is one of several universities that have sought a more amicable solution.

Northwestern University in Illinois, the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, Rutgers University at New Brunswick in New Jersey and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have also brokered agreements with students, while others, including Wesleyan in Connecticut and the University of California at Berkeley, have allowed the protest encampments to continue.

The outcomes from these divergent approaches remain uncertain; while some of the more extreme examples of suppression have been met with public shock and condemnation, protests have persisted. At Brown, students who agreed to dismantle their demonstration in exchange for a seat at the table in an upcoming meeting with the Corporation of Brown University did so knowing that a satisfying answer to protesters’ demands for divestment is far from a guarantee.

But the movement, which erupted in response to a conflict thousands of miles away, has brought one closer to home into sharper focus. The protests in support of Gaza are testing the bounds of students’ rights to free speech and shining a spotlight on the deepening political divides over the culture on college campuses.

“Students are pointing out contradictions between being asked to be free thinkers and then finding themselves challenged when they think they are thinking freely,” said Dr Manual Pastor, a professor and the director of the Equity Research Institute at the University of Southern California, whose research focuses on the power of social movements.

Aerial view of a green lawn with a few people walking across it, and lighter squares, with one white sign that says in read “We’ll Be Back”

Schools have long grappled with this balancing act, both encouraging diverse perspectives and limiting its expression in the name of safety. But these simmering tensions have come to a boil as political divides widen.

Since the start of the protests on campus last fall, conservatives have argued they are a symbol of how an “out-of-control left” has come to dominate US campuses. It’s an issue the GOP-led House has pursued with vigor, launching an investigation into federal funding for schools where protests have lingered, and scrutinizing presidents of some of America’s most prestigious universities whom they allege have allowed an escalation in antisemitism.

That intense scrutiny, and the response of prominent university donors, has incentivized some schools to take a heavier hand, Pastor said. In December, the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard were forced to resign after a heated hearing on their actions to limit pro-Palestinian protests. The president of Columbia University, Minouche Shafik, who was called to testify in April, vowed to take a strong approach. The next day, she unleashed swarms of New York police department (NYPD) officers on student protesters .

Meanwhile, tensions on campuses have only intensified.

That’s why some universities have tried to use this moment as an opportunity, choosing to foster dialogues around the emotionally fraught issue rather than trying to remove it with force.

At Wesleyan, where the student encampment has quadrupled in size since Sunday , faculty have taught classes among the tents. President Michael S Roth said that, though it violates university rules, the protest will not be cleared as long as it remains peaceful.

“As long as we all reject violence, we have opportunities to listen and to learn from one another,” he said in a statement posted on X.

Large green lawn, with a couple pop-up tents and a few chairs.

In an interview with the Guardian late last year, Roth – who is Jewish and a critic of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement largely driving these protests – championed debate and disagreement.

His mission, he said , was to ensure students feel safe and won’t get harassed or intimidated, “but you’re not so safe that you don’t encounter offensive comments or invigorating debate”.

“I’m trying to model this openness that has limits,” he added.

It’s an ethos echoed in Brown’s approach.

“Universities were built to hold disagreement and grapple with competing views. This is an essential part of our mission of advancing knowledge and understanding,” Brown’s president, Christina H Paxson, wrote in a letter announcing the agreement.

With a nod toward a shared sense of concern about the confrontations seen at other universities and an acknowledgment of stark differences in beliefs about the events unfolding in the Middle East, she added that she is “confident that the Brown community can live up to the values of support for free expression within an open and respectful learning community”.

Student protesters at UC Berkeley say they have, for their part, also tried to engage their community in discussion when confrontations arise, which has helped limit flare-ups of tension and ensured that they can keep the protest going. They plan to stay for the long haul.

“Things are OK on the Berkeley campus,” said Yazen Kashlan, an organizer and graduate student at UC Berkeley on Wednesday. “Students are protesting and exercising their right to free speech, so it hasn’t been confrontational.”

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There have been skirmishes. On Wednesday evening, videos of a small fight began circling on social media as Israel-supporting counter-protesters tussled with someone near the encampment. Campus officials condemned violence on both sides and are investigating the incident, which they said resulted in minor injuries .

A man in an orange jacket kneels on a blue tarp and rolls up a tent, in front of a piece of plywood spray-painted with the words “Gaza Solidarity Encampment - divest now.”

Still, the growing encampment has not been met with security or police, and university administrators have kept lines of communication open. Protesters at Berkeley have four main demands: they want the university to vocally condemn the violence in Gaza and call for an end to it, and to divest all UC financial holdings connected to the conflict . They also want UC Berkeley to academically boycott Israeli universities and create a permanent Palestinian studies program.

There are other goals, too, Kashlan said: “The way I see it, one of the wins this movement can already claim is awareness – aligning the struggles of the global south and generally oppressed people in this one cause.”

To Kashlan, a successful outcome is how people connect with the protest and the cause they hope to elevate. “It is a moral imperative,” he added, noting that that’s how students hope to enact change in a conflict that’s so far away.

Even with a more open approach, discussions of a divisive issue firmly rooted in identity, religion and ethnicity have at times devolved into rhetoric that has left some students and members of the broader campus communities feeling targeted or unsafe at some schools. It’s why UC Berkeley administrators say they are investing in more dialogue.

“We are built for a world that’s painted in shades of grey, not black and white,” said Dan Mogulof, a spokesperson for UC Berkeley. “We need to support diversity of perspective and civil discourse, and dialogue across all variety of divides – that’s imperiled right now.”

Students walk by dozens of colorful tents on a green lawn.

The school has doled out $700,000 to fund new plans and programs that encourage a culture shift on campus and promote civil discourse. Among them will be mandatory training for students, faculty and staff on Islamophobia and antisemitism and a new course on conversation across the divides.

“We are not turning a blind eye to any of this and we are not throwing our hands in the air,” Mogulof said. “We are marshaling all the educational resources we can to support our principles of community.” Still, he said, changing the school’s investment strategy isn’t on the table.

As the semester draws to a close, it’s also not a sure thing the encampment will be allowed to continue. Security at the school is keeping a close watch, Mogulof said, and is ready to step in if they deem campus life is being disrupted.

Other schools that first prioritized dialogue have shifted course. Dartmouth, an Ivy League university in New Hampshire, scheduled several events and discussions in recent months discussing the situation in the Middle East. But on Wednesday, soon after the first tents of a protest encampment were raised, officers from the Hanover police department cleared the site, arresting 90 people including history professor Annelise Orleck, a former chair of the school’s Jewish studies department who has taught at the school for 34 years.

And, some protesters have succeeded in getting their calls answered. The Evergreen State College agreed on Tuesday to set up a taskforce that will map out its “divestment from companies that profit from gross human rights violations and/or the occupation of Palestinian territories”.

Meanwhile, the cause aligning these protesters across the country has largely been lost in the rhetoric over whether their tactics are wrong or right. While crackdowns against student protesters feed the news cycle, updates about the carnage that continues in Gaza has been pushed to the background.

For Pastor, dialogue will be needed to help produce the potential for peace, both at American universities and in the Middle East.

“In the context of all this back and forth, the real pain being experienced in the Middle East is on the part of Gazan parents seeing their children crushed under bombardment or Israeli parents who lost a young person they thought was safely going to a rave,” he said. “Even as we challenge the asymmetry of power and the complex history, that is all being lost right now.

“If we are to return to any kind of lasting peace,” he added, “it will only be lasting if there’s empathy.”

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Gender therapy review reveals devastating impacts on teens

Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences.

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A top Human Rights Council-appointed expert has welcomed the decision by all health authorities in the United Kingdom to halt the routine use of puberty-blockers offered to children as part of gender transition services, amid a sharp increase more widely in the number of teenage girls seeking such treatment and concerns that it might disrupt brain development.

The development is in line with several western European countries that have reportedly reduced access to similar gender identity treatments whose benefits were found to be “remarkably weak”, according to a National Health Service (NHS) England-commissioned review, published on 10 April by consultant paediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass.

UN Special Rapporteur Reem Alsalem also welcomed the commitment by the UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to implement the implications of the Cass Review.

It “has…very clearly shown the devastating consequences that policies on gender treatments have had on human rights of children , including girls… its implications go beyond the UK,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Ms. Alsalem.

UN_SPExperts

Referrals spike

The independent rights expert cited the Review’s findings that between 2009 and 2016, the number of adolescent girls referred to NHS-England’s service for gender distress – or dysphoria - increased from just 15 to 1,071.

These referrals “breached fundamental principles, such as the need to uphold the best interest of the child in all decisions that affect their lives ”, the Special Rapporteur insisted, while transgender rights groups have maintained that there are long waiting lists for treatment.

Mental anguish

Noting the “extraordinarily high number of teenage girls” impacted by anxiety and depression in recent years, Ms. Alsalem said it was crucially important that health authorities stopped “rapidly initiating permanent gender transition pathways that usually begin with puberty blockers, which could cause temporary or permanent disruption to brain maturation ”.

Instead, girls potentially seeking “gender affirming interventions” should be offered more holistic psychological support, protected by legislation that should ensure “transition does not become the only option that is acceptable to discuss with them”.

‘Detransition’ support

The same opportunity for wider therapeutic support should also be available to “detransitioners” - individuals who have discontinued gender transitioning - “most of whom are girls”, Ms. Alsalem maintained, in support of the Review’s findings.

“ Far too long, the suffering of this group of children and adults has been ignored or discounted. The report’s findings and recommendation signals that they have been heard, seen, and that their specific needs have been recognised.”

Toxic debate

According to Dr Cass’s report, “many more” young girls are being referred for gender transition treatment today, marking a distinct change from the past, when most requests for medical help came from adolescent boys.

Reiterating an earlier call for tolerance regarding discussions surrounding gender treatments amid a “toxicity of the debate” identified by the Cass Review, Special Rapporteur Alsalem stressed that researchers and academics who expressed their views should not be “silenced, threatened or intimidated” .

Special Rapporteurs are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and receive no salary for their work.

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California’s 4-year-olds face a huge decision with transitional kindergarten

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Good morning. It’s Tuesday, May 7 . This is Jenny Gold. I cover early childhood education for The Times. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.

  • Universal Transitional Kindergarten is coming. We found everything you need to know before deciding to enroll.
  • Pro-Palestinian protests at U.S. college campuses continue.
  • Weird weather hits California , again.
  • And here’s today’s e-newspaper

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Transitional Kindergarten vs. preschool, explained

Parents of young children across California are facing a big decision right now: Should they keep their kids in preschool next year, or should they give the state’s newly expanding Transitional Kindergarten, or TK, a try ?

TK — California’s $2.7-billion initiative to offer families an extra year of free public education — will be open next year to all children who turn 4 by June 2. At LAUSD, all children who turn 4 by Sept. 1 are already eligible. The program is causing great concern for the rest of the child-care industry .

But the state does not currently evaluate what goes on in individual TK classrooms, and information on what they look like can vary greatly by district and even individual schools.

“We’ve told parents that this is one of the most important times of their kid’s life, but we’ve left this information vacuum,” said Anna Markowitz, a professor at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.

So we at the L.A. Times early education team decided to dig in and share everything parents might want to know about Transitional Kindergarten.

Transitional Kindergarten is free. For some parents, this may be all they need to know. Unlike private preschool programs — which cost a median of $14,766 per year in L.A. County — TK is free.

The problem: TK may include as little as three hours a day of care, leaving families to fend for themselves after that. Some districts — including LAUSD — offer longer hours, in addition to after-care programs. Other districts may bus students to private after-care centers. But these extended-care options usually require additional fees, and slots may be limited. Some families may decide that keeping their children in a full-day preschool program is the more practical option.

TK classrooms generally have more students than the average preschool class . Classes max out at 24 students and must be supervised by two adults, one of whom must be a fully certified TK teacher — a 12-to-1 student-to-adult ratio. California state preschool classrooms, on the other hand, have a ratio of 8 to 1.

Teachers in a TK classroom generally have more education than preschool teachers , including a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential, though these degrees do not necessarily prepare them to teach 4-year-olds. By 2025, TK teachers also will need to have 24 units of early childhood education or development.

Preschool teachers, on the other hand, may have fewer years of education but more experience teaching young children.

TK classrooms often expect a higher degree of independence from students , which may be challenging for younger children. TK does not offer a nap, for example, and most provide minimal assistance with toileting . In contrast, most preschools still provide naps, diapering and other toileting assistance to the same age group.

TK programs in California (like preschools) are supposed to teach to the California Preschool Learning Foundations , which were created by the Department of Education. By the age of 5, children in both types of programs are supposed to learn how to:

  • Regulate their feelings and impulses more consistently
  • Participate positively and effectively in a group
  • Write their own name nearly correctly
  • Know more than half of uppercase letters and lowercase letters.
  • Solve simple addition and subtraction problems

So how do I pick?

Available hours, schedule details and costs end up being the deciding factors for many families. But classroom style and curriculum also are important.

Discerning parents often can set up a visit to a TK classroom to try to figure out how things are working in their own district.

Jade Jenkins, a professor of education at UC Irvine, advises that parents seeking a developmentally appropriate classroom look for a lot of open space, group tables instead of desks, and an environment that is mostly dedicated to allowing kids to explore independently. Sensory areas and activities such as a play kitchen or dress-up corner are good indications of a play-based program. Folders packed with worksheets are not. Classrooms should ideally have their own bathroom and access to the outside.

Today’s top stories

Students wearing masks and keffiyehs protest.

Pro-Palestinian protests at UCLA

  • Over 100 were arrested at UCLA and UCSD is stepping up security as administrators clamp down on protesters.
  • The detention of independent journalist and activists at UCLA has drawn an outcry over press freedom.
  • UCLA detectives are using Jan. 6 tactics to find members of the masked mob who attacked the pro-Palestinian camp.

More on Gaza

  • Here’s what the polling says about the generational shift in U.S. attitudes about Israel .
  • Israel ordered Palestinians to evacuate eastern Rafah and begun some ground operations there.

Weird weather hits California

Snow-covered furniture outside buildings

  • The snowiest day of the season was recorded in NorCal this weekend, even though it’s May!
  • In SoCal, strong winds toppled scaffolding, canceled a beach festival and started brush fires

Environment, climate and politics

  • Young voters aren’t giving Biden credit for passing the biggest climate bill in history. Here’s why .
  • ‘Nothing is untouched’: DDT found in deep-sea fish raises troubling concerns for food web

Baja California killings

  • Three friends drove from California to Mexico for a surfing trip. Then they disappeared.
  • Mexican authorities found 3 bodies last week during their search.
  • The bodies, which were found in a well, were identified as the Australian and American surfers who were killed for tires.
  • Here’s everything else we know.
  • Los Angeles Times’ former film critic J ustin Chang won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.
  • The tiny Central Coast newsroom Lookout Santa Cruz won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news .

More big stories

  • Here’s the joke that crossed the line for Tom Brady during his Netflix roast.
  • This tiny apartment costs $7 a month . Scoring one is like winning the lottery.
  • Jeannie Epper, the trailblazing Hollywood stuntwoman , died at 83.
  • Jackie Lacey lost the L.A. D.A. job to George Gascón. Now she’s endorsing his 2024 rival .

Get unlimited access to the Los Angeles Times. Subscribe here .

Commentary and opinions

  • Editorial board: To reach climate goals, L.A. needs action on its Green New Deal — not excuses.
  • LZ Granderson : Trump’s racist ‘welfare’ dog whistle is nonsense just like Reagan’s.
  • Anita Chabria : MAGA loves the Gaza protests. Here’s why.

Today’s great reads

Kim Kardashian stands behind the Skims logo.

Armed with venture capital, Skims and Kim Kardashian write their ‘second chapter.’ Kardashian’s celebrity shapewear brand raked in $330 million in venture capital funding last year, the second-highest among L.A.-area companies. Retail stores are next.

Other great reads

  • Their daughter killed herself with a deputy’s gun. They’re still looking for answers .
  • This gentrifying Mexico City neighborhood has a Soho House — and a migrant encampment

How can we make this newsletter more useful? Send comments to [email protected] .

For your downtime

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  • 🥪 The right sandwich for 22 different hikes in L.A.
  • ⚾ Where to eat and drink near Dodger Stadium before or after a game.
  • ⛳ Looking for a tee time? Here are 9 pleasant public golf courses in L.A.
  • 👚 The benefits of dressing up to stay in — and why they outweigh dressing up to go out.
  • 📖 Whoopi Goldberg discusses her new memoir, ‘Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me.’
  • 🧑‍🍳 Here’s a recipe for pork and shrimp lumpia Shanghai with cracked pepper coconut vinegar sauce .
  • ✏️ Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games .

And finally ... a great photo

Show us your favorite place in California! We’re running low on submissions. Send us photos that scream California and we may feature them in an edition of Essential California.

Zendaya poses on the 2024 Met Gala red carpet.

Today’s great photo is from Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images. The photographer snapped this shot of Zendaya at the 2024 Met Gala. See the best red-carpet fashions from the gala , which had the theme “The Garden of Time.”

Have a great day, from the Essential California team

Jenny Gold, education reporter Christian Orozco, assistant editor Stephanie Chavez, deputy metro editor Karim Doumar, head of newsletters

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educational topics for debate

Jenny Gold covers early childhood development and education for the Los Angeles Times. Before joining The Times in 2023, she spent nearly 14 years covering healthcare for radio and print as a senior correspondent at Kaiser Health News. Her stories have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, NPR, Reveal and Marketplace, among others. A Berkeley native, she is a graduate of Brown University and was previously a Kroc fellow at NPR.

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South Carolina lawmakers rekindle bill limiting how topics like race are taught

South Carolina Rep. Shannon Erickson R-Beaufort, left, and Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Little River, right, look over a bill that would limit the way certain topics could be taught in public schools during a conference committee meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

South Carolina Rep. Shannon Erickson R-Beaufort, left, and Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Little River, right, look over a bill that would limit the way certain topics could be taught in public schools during a conference committee meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

From left to right, South Carolina Rep. Terry Alexander, D-Florence, Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Little River, Sen Darrell Jackson, D-Hopkins, and Rep. Shannon Erickson R-Beaufort, talk during a conference committee meeting on a bill that would limit the way certain topics could be taught in public schools on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

South Carolina Rep. Adam Morgan, R-Taylors, waits to speak on a bill that would limit the way certain topics could be taught in public schools during a conference committee meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Columbia, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

South Carolina Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Hopkins, left, and Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, right, talk during a conference committee meeting on a bill that would limit the way certain topics could be taught in public schools on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

South Carolina Rep. Shannon Erickson R-Beaufort, left, and Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Little River, right, talk during a conference committee meeting on a bill that would limit the way certain topics could be taught in public schools on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

South Carolina Rep. Terry Alexander, D-Florence, speaks on a bill that would limit the way certain topics could be taught in public schools during a conference committee meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Columbia, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A small group of lawmakers in South Carolina rekindled debate Tuesday on a bill that would limit how topics like race can be taught in public school K-12 classrooms.

Both the House and Senate passed bills on the topic in 2023. But the different versions sat dormant until a conference committee met to try to work out the differences.

The three House members and three senators adjourned after an hour after making it just four pages into a 16-page handout on the differences between the proposals. There is a deadline. The regular session ends Thursday, although since a version of the bill passed both chambers it could survive into special sessions in June.

The conference committee Tuesday didn’t even get to the biggest differences between the chambers.

The Senate removed a provision requiring teachers to post any changes to their plans on what they will teach and classroom materials three days before the lessons and removed another provision allowing parents to sue any district in the state they think is teaching prohibited concepts even while they follow the school district’s appeal process.

The bill mostly copies a section first put in the state budget three years ago that prohibits teaching that one race is superior to another or race determining someone’s moral character.

South Carolina Rep. Josiah Magnuson, R-Campobello, left, listens as House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, right, asks questions during a budget debate on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

The proposal does have an appeal process for material that parents find objectionable. But the Senate version limits the right to complaints to students, parents, employees or volunteers in the school district where the objectionable items are found.

Missing from the bill is the explicit phrase “ critical race theory .” It instead prevents teaching that an individual “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past” by other members of their race, and that someone is inherently privileged or should receive “adverse or favorable treatment” because of their race.

Supporters of the bill said nothing in it prevents teaching about any ethnic group’s history or the “fact-based discussion” of historical periods and current events. For example, teachers could include lessons about slavery and Jim Crow, but within the historical facts.

Democratic Sen. Darrell Jackson questioned whose historical facts would be considered, especially for topics like what caused the Civil War and if disagreements could lead to numerous challenges.

“Can you talk about how South Carolina was led by rich white slave owners who convinced uneducated white tenant farmers to join in the war?” Jackson said. “What caused the Civil War? Was it the Lost Cause? Was it states’ rights? Was it to defend slavery?”

Supporters said the goal of the bill is to give teachers parameters and balance that against the rights of parents to know what is being taught.

A sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Adam Morgan, didn’t give specific examples but he said he has heard about teachers who have taught one race is superior or should bear responsibility for what was done in the past.

“If my kid is in that class, if your kid is in that class, if somebody else’s kid in is that class — suddenly it’s a big issue,” Morgan said. “It’s not happening everywhere, but it’s happening somewhere.”

JEFFREY COLLINS

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