The Chicago Debate League (CDL) is the premier competitive academic debate league in the nation. Comprising fifty-nine high schools and fourteen middle schools from across the city of Chicago, the CDL is one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most successful Urban Debate Leagues.
The CDL is administered by a partnership between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Debate Commission (CDC), a non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of transforming the lives of urban youth through academic debate. The CDC was founded in 1995 and the CDL was founded in 1997. The first debate tournament in the CDL was held on October 4th, 1997, at Bogan High School. The first summer debate institute in the CDL was held at the Washington Park Field House, August, 1997.
The CDL serves to advance the Mission of Chicago Public Schools (CPS): to be the premier urban school district by providing high quality instruction, outstanding academic programs, and development supports to prepare its students for tomorrow’s challenges. It instructs student participants in reading, speaking, writing, and listening — all of the language arts. With a rigorous critical thinking component, it is an outstanding and challenging academic program. In university campus classrooms and on electronic research databases, CPS debaters are preparing for their future success. Debate empowers all participating students, and thereby helps create school-wide norms and expectations of academic excellence.
A note on the distinction between the Chicago Debate Commission (CDC) and the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL). The CDC founded, administers, and is expanding the Chicago Debate League. In contrast, the NAUDL leads the national urban debate movement, by building and strengthening Urban Debate Leagues (UDLs) in other cities, and connecting all UDLs in a national network. Both are growing organizations with an excellent track record of achieving their respective missions. Although the NAUDL is also headquartered in Chicago, the CDC and the NAUDL are distinct organizations, with separate finances and separate programming.