Topic Research Guide

This page archives past and active debate topics, and includes links to resources on the World Wide Web for successful and challenging middle school debate topics. If you are looking for information on topics that will be debated at tournaments this month, look at our "upcoming topics " page. This page contains research links to information about the following topics:

School vouchers should be allowed.

The U S Government subsidy of the arts should end.

This site provides very specific and detailed arguments for why art subsidies should be eliminated. The site additionally explains why the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) should be privatized.

This article entitled, "The Separation of Art and State" provides a variety or arguments for the proposition. The author bases most of his arguments on constitutional and legal reasoning. Furthermore, the author points to historical examples and the intent of the founding fathers to explain his arguments.


Corporal punishment of children should be illegal.

The United States should close its Guantanamo prison. Middle schools should have mandatory drug testing for participation in extracurricular activities.

Food aid does more harm than good.

Cell phones should be allowed in schools.

The United States of America should rely on alternative energy sources instead of fossil fuels.

Television is a bad influence on children.

All schools should provide students with music and art education.

The federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina was appropriate.

American intervention in Iraq has done more good than harm.

Congress should pass the "Clear Skies" initiative.

Homework should be banned.

California should raise the driving age to 18.

The legal system should have the option to charge juveniles as adults in murder cases.

The United States should ban the death penalty.

Classrooms should have closed-circuit cameras.

Russia is more an enemy than an ally of the United States.

California should make it mandatory for citizens to vote in elections.

In this case, Grand Theft Auto is more responsible than Devin Moore for the crime.

The United States should amend the Constitution to allow foreign born citizens to serve as President.

The United States should have a draft for military service. California high schools should substantially expand vocational training . Beauty pageants do more harm than good. The United States should expand its use of nuclear power. Stem cell research should be expanded.

Fast food restaurants do more harm than good.

Schools should provide for single sex instruction.

Junior high and high schools should randomly test their athletes for drug use.

Physician-assisted suicide should be legalized.

The United States should sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

The US should eliminate farm subsidies.

Zoos do more harm than good.
  • About Zoos
    This website contains useful information for the opposition. This article serves as an introduction. If you go to the bottom of the page, there are also links to articles about how zoos help conservation, research, and recreation. There is also an article about whether zoos are cruel.
  • The Facts About Zoos
    This site is most helpful for the proposition. The site provides background information about the about the conservation of endangered species, alternative ways for children to learn about animals (other than visiting zoos), and facts about how often zoos release animals into the wild.
  • Endangered Species
    This site is useful for both the proposition and the opposition. It provides information about the causes of endangerment, reasons to save endangered species, laws that protect endangered species, and more. This site is a good resource for background information on the topic.

Fried foods should have warning labels.

The District of Columbia Curfew law(The Juvenile Curfew Act of 1995 (DC Code 6-2181)) does more harm than good.

Professional athletes should be role models.

K-12 schools should ban junk food sales.

Medical testing on animals does more good than harm.

  • "Animals in scientific research"
    This article is from the National Anti-Vivisection Society, an organization devoted to ending experimentation on animals.
    It will be useful to the opposition. There are some tough scientific concepts in the article,
    but most students should be able to figure them out. If you have trouble understanding what
    parts of the article mean, ask a science teacher at your school. For information about
    drug testing, follow the link on the left side of the page.
  • "Animals used in experimentation FAQ"
    This article is from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an organization that opposes animal testing.
    It will be helpful for the opposition side of this motion. There is a lot of useful information on this website; however, you should be aware that some of the videos contained on the site may be disturbing.
  • "Myths and Facts"
    This website is run by RDS (an organization in the United Kingdom) that advocates
    for the use of animal testing and experimentation in medical research. The site will be
    very helpful to the proposition side, as there are multiple pages with information and
    examples. Using the navigation bar at the top of the site, you can look at "animal research facts,"
    "medical" benefits," "animal welfare," "hot topics," and more.
  • "The benefits of animal research"
    This website will be helpful to the proposition side. The organization Seriously Ill for Medical Research advocates for animal experimentation. This page gives examples of diseases for which animal testing is helpful for research and treatment.
    Follow the links at the bottom of the page to get examples for different diseases.

The French government should permit students to wear visible religious symbols in state schools.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima was justified.

This is a two-page account of the history of World War II leading up to Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan. It provides excellent history and concludes that the bombing was probably not justified. Thus, it is primarily helpful for the opposition. For an easier version, try this web site:

This page is an excerpt from the magazine Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists . On the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the magazine asked several authors to say if they would have dropped the bomb. If you scroll down the page, you will see links to three essays that take different positions on the topic. This page will be helpful for both sides.

This Web page is from the Truman Presidential Museum and Library. It will be helpful to both sides, as there is an introduction to the decision to drop the bomb as well as a copy of Truman's press release on the decision. Afterwards, there are some discussion questions that may help you shape your arguments about the topic.


Wal-Mart is good for America.

  • Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

The PBS documentary series Frontline aired a documentary on Wal-Mart in November 2004. On this Web site, you can watch the documentary (with a high-speed connection), read the transcript, and read interviews with experts attempting to address this topic directly. This site will help debaters prepare for both sides of the topic, and contains a lot of helpful resources.

  • Wal-Mart is Good for America

This article, by Bruce Bartlett of the National Center for Policy Analysis, is a criticism of the Frontline documentary listed above. It will be helpful for the proposition side. There are a few terms and concepts that may be hard to understand in the article, but it is useful as a criticism of the views presented in the Frontline Web site.

  • Wake Up Wal-Mart: The Real Wal-Mart Facts

This site is maintained by the group Wake Up Wal-Mart, an activist group working to change Wal-Mart. This page will be helpful to the opposition side, as it contains many facts and arguments about Wal-Mart's practices.

  • Low Prices at What Cost?

This document is saved in PDF form, so you can download it or read it online. The report is by Wal-Mart Watch, a group working to reform Wal-Mart. It will be helpful for the opposition side.

  • Wal-Mart: Greedy Villain or a Shopper's Best Friend?

This article is the transcript of a story that aired on ABC News last year. It will be helpful for both sides, but primarily for the proposition side. The authors interview several guests who argue for the benefits of the low prices that Wal-Mart offers to consumers.

Algebra should not be required for high school graduation.

*Note: if you are still looking for information on this topic, we suggest that you go and talk to math teachers in your school and interview them about the need for algebra.

Businesses should not place advertisements in schools.

It is unethical to eat meat.

In the case of student lockers, school safety is more important than student privacy.

The No Child Left Behind Act has done more good than harm.

  • No Child Left Behind’s Impotence on the Achievement Gap

    This is an article that does an analaysis of a New York Times article giving evidence that the NCLB does not succeed. An opposition team should use this and look at the Times article that is linked in the article.
  • US Department of Education site on No Child Left Behind

    This is a great site for the creation of a proposition case with lots of statistics, including how NCLB is affecting students in each individual state.
  • No Child Left Behind Act is Working
    This a summary of different studies that support the propisition case. It comes from the Department of Education
  • Only the bathwater—or the baby too

    This is a study of how the No Child Left Behind does not work for all states, and that a national education reform needs to be smaller. This would be a good argument for the opposition team

Fossil fuels are easily replaced.

Single sex schools are better for students than co-ed schools in grades K-12.

Repeal the Military Commissions Act.

The President of the United States should be elected by the direct vote of the people.

The U. S. should end the embargo on Cuba.

There should be year-round schooling for students in grades K-12.

  • Going to School Year-Round
    This article will be helpful to both sides in the debate about year-round schooling. In clear language, the authors explain the pros and cons of year-round schooling.
  • Teaching in Year-Round Schools
    This article, from the U.S. Department of Education, will be useful for both sides. The authors focus on the costs and benefits of year-round school from the perspective of teachers.
  • Summer Matters
    This website, from people who are opposed to year-round school, will be helpful for the opposition side. It contains a variety of links, arguments, and articles.
  • National Association for Year-Round Learning
    This website will help the proposition side prepare. It is maintained by an organization that advocates for year-round schooling.

Hugo Chavez is not a friend to the United States.

  • “Chavez: Castro’s mini-me”
    This article explains that Chavez is a direct threat to the United States. The article highlights Chavez’s increase in creating Venezuela into a military power, is giving weapons to anti-Government drug selling armies, and uses the nation’s supply of oil as a way to attack the U.S. Government. The proposition could use this article to make several independent arguments how Chavez is actively trying to limit the authority and power of the United States.
  • “Chavez pushes Petro-Diplomacy”
    This is an article for the opposition side. This article highlights that Chavez gave oil to poor income families in the United States, in states where citizens where having trouble paying increasingly winter heat bills. Chavez was the only individual to offer free oil to these communities. This could be used to generate the argument that Chavez is more of a friend to the United States then many U.S. run corporations, which gave no oil.
  • “Progressive interview with Hugo Chavez”
    Either team could use this argument. The opposition could use this article to make the point that Chavez wants to give the United States cheap oil which we need for numerous reasons, like continued economic expansion, which is important for the United States to prosper. The proposition team could use this article to say that Chavez wants to get the United States addicted to foreign oil, which is terrible because it makes the United States dependent on another nation for energy.
  • “Chavez cast himself as anti-Bush”
    This is an article that could be used for the proposition team. The article explains that Hugo Chavez is trying to influence Latin American countries to create an anti-American alliance. The article also states that Chavez will try and use oil to influence American politics within the country and to limit American foreign policy.
  • “Signs of hope in American-Venezuela ties”
    This is a news article from the middle of December 2006 that the opposition team could use. It states that the United States and Venezuela have started to negotiate and have consultation and cooperation. The article also states that the United States and Venezuela have moved away from their hostility toward new cooperation




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