Become a Member School

  •  The HISD Houston Urban Debate League Provides: 

    • FREE competition, provided at six tournaments, including a National UDL qualifier
    • FREE student seminars taught by some of the leading debate educators in the nation
    • FREE transportation and meals provided at all tournaments and seminars for both students and coaches
    • FREE copies of necessary files and supplies
    • FREE professional development during the summer and school year for all coaches
    • FREE on-site visits & curriculum support, including our mentor program
    • FREE summer institute for students
    • STIPENDS available for two coaches per school
    • SCHOLARSHIP opportunities at multiple events
    Multiple studies prove that urban debate participation
    • INCREASES literacy scored by 25%
    • INCREASES grade-point average by approximately 10%
    • INCREASES an at-risk student’s chance of graduating high school by 70%
    • INCREASES critical thinking and research skills
    • INCREASES attendance rates
    • HELPS students resolve disagreements constructively
    • INCREASES scholarship offerings for its participants 
    • DECREASES the likelihood of students engaging in high-risk behaviors


    Changes Lives:

    • Debate prepares students to be effective advocates for themselves, their families, and their communities.
    • Urban youth often enter adulthood without civic literacy or an understanding of their rights and responsibilities under the law.
    • In short, promising urban young people stand unprepared to enter legal, political, or civic-based careers.
    • HDI works to change that landscape by bringing debate to Houston public schools.
    This website is managed by the UIL Department at HISD.
    For additional content developed by the HUDL 501(C)(3) click below.

Contact Us

  • Mark Niles
    UIL Program Specialist
    David Portales
    UIL Clerk

Debate Formats

  • All forms of debate develop important skills such as critical thinking, listening, argument construction, research, note-taking, etc. However; each format has its own unique elements that make it distinctive.
    CROSS EXAMINATION DEBATE: Allows students to focus on a single debate topic each year; thereby becoming “subject-matter- experts.” Topics typically call for a policy change by the U.S. government.
    CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE:  A mock legislative assembly competition where students draft bills (proposed laws) and resolutions (position statements), which they and their peers later debate and vote to pass into law.  
    PUBLIC FORUM DEBATE: Offers students a unique opportunity to develop on-their-feet critical thinking skills by providing an experience similar to an presidential debate. Topics change monthly, giving students exposure to a wide range of important issues.
    WORLD SCHOOLS DEBATE: Challenges students by having them debate multiple topics at each tournament. These topics change every round and include impromptu debates.
    LINCOLN–DOUGLAS DEBATE:  A type of one-on-one debate practiced mainly in the United States at the high school level. It is sometimes also called values debate because the format traditionally places a heavy emphasis on logic, ethical values, and philosophy. The Lincoln–Douglas Debate format is named for the 1858 Lincoln–Douglas Debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.