Dear MDTA Members,
It is hard to believe but my two years as President of the MDTA has come to a close. The past two years have been an exciting time for debate in Minnesota with many changes in our community some good and some well not so good. Over the past couple of few years we have seen the strong resurgence of urban debate in Minnesota with programs in both the Minneapolis and the St. Paul school districts successfully competing in debate competition. The Minnesota Urban Debate League continues to work hard to open up opportunities for debaters going to school in our urban areas. Policy debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, Public Forum debate and Classic debate all continue to help contribute to our mission of teaching high school students to think critically. Unfortunately, when we look at debate opportunities holistically we see a continuation of the trend towards fewer opportunities not more. The mission of the MDTA is to promote and grow debate opportunities in the state of Minnesota. Over the past two years we have worked hard to put the MDTA in a position that will allow it to fulfill this mission. It is our belief that organizationally and financially we are now in a position to begin to put to work our collective energy and enthusiasm for debate competition and increase the number of schools who value debate as a part of their overall curricular and extra-curricular opportunities.
I turn over the helm of the MDTA to one of our communities most outstanding and enthusiastic supporters of debate activities, Mr. Cort Sylvester. I am confident that Cort will provide the needed leadership and guidance that our community needs to make good on our mission of increasing debate opportunities across the entire state of Minnesota.
I want to thank everyone for their support and patience as we work to make the MDTA a fully functioning advocate for debate activities across the state of Minnesota. Below you will find a recap of our activities over the past two years.
Minnesota Debate Teachers Association
2009 President’s Report
The following is a recap of activities and accomplishments made by the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association during the past two years. Without the support and the efforts of many different individuals these accomplishments would not have been possible.
1. Together with the Minnesota State High School League the MDTA realigned the sections reducing them from 6 to 4 competitive sections that have a healthier number of participating schools.
2. After a year of hard work the MDTA has managed to attain 501c3 non-profit status and is working on expanding our foundation assets so that we can maximize our outreach efforts to grow debate in Minnesota
3. Joe and Lynn Schmitt have offered to donate up to $25,000 per year, for 3 years, as a challenge matching grant to the MDTA in an effort to increase our foundation assets. The MDTA is working on this in cooperation with the St. Paul Foundation.
4. The MDTA has paid out and fulfilled our 2003 pledge of scholarship grant money to support the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth at Macalester College in St. Paul. In 2003 the MDTA pledged $10,500 and this summer we paid out $4100 in scholarship grants to help students attend the summer MITY program in introductory debate. This completes our pledge to the MITY program.
5. The MDTA continues to work with the Minnesota Urban Debate League to meet our pledged obligation to support their efforts to grow debate in the inner city. Currently we have a plan in place to disperse funds in the amount of $3700 per year until our $15,000.00 pledge is fulfilled. In 2008 we sent a check to the UDL for $3700 in partial fulfillment of our obligation.
6. Currently the MDTA has funds in the amount of $2000 in our checking account and we have approximately $190,000 in our St. Paul Foundation account after receiving a 2008 dispersal of $9600 in February. We are anticipating dispersal during the month of February 2009. Please keep in mind that our foundation account is experiencing some rough times in the market like everyone else so our dispersal amounts will be effected for the next few years until the market rebounds and we start to grow the foundation account again.
7. The MDTA has successfully changed over our checking account to a non-profit organization checking account from the current personal checking account held by our Treasurer Gail Sarff. The MDTA thanks Gail Sarff for her dedication and service as our treasurer.
8. Richard Brynteson has taken over as MDTA Treasurer and Gail Sarff has taken over as the organizations secretary.
9. Richard Brynteson was elected to the position of President-Elect of the MDTA and will follow Cort Sylvester who takes over as President of MDTA effective February 1, 2009.
10. The MDTA has awarded its 2008 Coach of the Year to Mr. Pete Nikolai of St. Paul Central High School.
11. The MDTA has awarded the 2008 James Graupner Distinguished Service Award to Mr. Cort Sylvester of Rosemount High School.
12. The MDTA continues to work with the MSHSL in an effort to expand debate opportunities throughout the state of Minnesota by promoting Public Forum Debate to state tournament status or at least to state festival status with the hope of elevating the event to full state tournament status as soon as possible.
13. Finally, the MDTA has started to reach out to alumni of Minnesota debate programs in an effort to not only reconnect with those individuals who have benefited from debate participation in high school but we hope they may also become a resource to help the MDTA in its mission to grow debate. The first step in this process was the creation of a Facebook Group which is fast approaching 200 members and through the power of word of mouth should hopefully allow us to reestablish a connection with many more of our graduates.
Christopher L. McDonald