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Arguing for Agency

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Designing and demonstrating debate strategies for high school classroom use and beyond in the unique moment that will be the 2020/21 school re-opening.

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Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools (LAB) has partnered with renowned Chicago-based firm Argument Centered Education (ACE) to develop a suite of free, publicly available resources to encourage teachers, students, and families to have discussions and debate about different aspects of the pandemic and appropriate responses and protocols that can minimize risk and keep communities safe and healthy. Our goal is to help school communities work through available evidence and take ownership of public health informed, equitable choices along the way. 

Guided by ACE, Brooklyn LAB has identified two different projects that revolve around COVID-related “debatable questions.”


  • The first question deals with COVID-19 protocol enforcement and discipline: Should schools implement and enforce common coronavirus mitigation policies at the staff member or administrator level, or should students and teachers be called upon to act responsibly and self-enforce?

  • The second question focuses on in-person school: Should schools restore full or hybrid in-person learning before a COVID-19 vaccine is available?


By doing research, developing positions, and then debating all sides of these questions, students not only learn about the scientific, public health, and public policy questions that swirl around COVID-19, they learn to apply critical literacy skills and to develop their own views. This kind of evidence-based argumentative discourse strengthens student voice. 


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