Des Moines Lincoln Railsplitter
2022 — Des Moines, IA/US
Saturday Congress Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I mainly judge congressional debate and speaking events. I'll include information for how I evaluate PO's and speeches in different sections.
1. For Everyone Speeches should be well organized. By this I mean the listener should be able to clearly delineate between your points, introduction, and confusion. If the delineation between these things is unclear to me, the listener, your speech isn't organized enough.
2. For Everyone Your speech, when appropriate, should be well supported by reliable and relevant sources. If you can't find research or credible analysis to back up a point that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't make it but your speech shouldn't be entirely filled with this type of argument. Additionally, I would caution you to avoid simply making an appeal to authority in your speech make sure the source of your information is properly credentialed before making a claim
3.For Everyone I prefer an extemporaneous delivery. Computers/notepads should be used as a reference rather than as a script. I also prefer a more polished delivery in which eye contact is more frequently maintained and a students movement is controlled so that it enhances the speech rather than distracts the listener. I can handle faster speech speeds but to a reasonable limit. I need people to speak at a reasonable volume. I need to be able to hear you but yelling is also inappropriate
4. In congress Your speech should be bringing up new information. If your points have already been made in round than don't waste everyone's time by repeating them. Secondly, While I understand that crystalization speeches are popular in the congressional "meta" they have to be well done and actually work to clearly delineate why one sides arguments are preferable to the other sides arguments. If all you have done is summarize the arguments the other speakers have made in round you have wasted everyone's time.
5.In Congress this is congressional debate not congressional speech. While I can understand a lack of clash in the authorship speech I believe that all other speeches in a cycle of debate should make a clear attempt at refuting the specific arguments that other speakers have made in round. Bonus points if you can set up these arguments using a questioning block to draw attention to the flaws in your opponents logic.
6.In Congress If you are speaking in the negation please don't center your argument around a problem that can be amended away. Write an amendment. If your problem with a bill is that it appropriates 20 million dollars instead of the 25 million that it should have fix that problem with an amendment.
7. In Congress While the PO is responsible for running a smooth and equitable chamber it is not only the responsibility of the PO. debaters that have a clear understanding of the rules and don't disrupt the chamber by making incorrect motions or violate chamber rules will be more highly ranked.
8. For Debate Events While I thoroughly enjoyed my time in debate I recognize that I am not a competitor thus it is not my responsibility to counter problematic arguments in round. If a competitor says something factually incorrect or logically incoherent my belief is that it is the responsibility of the other debaters to actually call you out on it. If the chamber doesn't expose these problems during questioning, cross fire, or cross examination than I don't feel It is my responsibility to weigh it.
9.For Presiding Officers I care that you run a smooth and equitable chamber. Make sure you are properly following rules for recency and presedence. Additionally, where rules/procedural issues arise I expect you to be able to handle them without relying on the parli. I will say that I typically have a hard time ranking PO's at the top of the chamber unless the quality of debate is exceedingly low or the PO is exceptionally proficient. However I will usually rank the PO in the top 5 if there are no serious errors in the way they conduct their chamber.
- I don't care about how you are dressed. Though understand that other judges may care about that kind of thing.
- I'm not typically a fan of silly arguments with the exception of the final speech in a round of congress but make sure everyone knows you are having fun.
- Please make sure your judges are ready before stampeding into a speech. I want to make sure that I've found the appropriate place on my ballot to provide you adequate feedback.
NOTE: I am always happy to provide additional feedback if desired (feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Speech and debate is awesome, please stick with it if you’re reading this especially if you’re in Iowa
Director of Forensics of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, IA, former coach for Ames (IA)
I debated PF in high school in rural Iowa and had no exposure to national circuit BUT since then have coached multiple partnerships to TOC and state champions
Am decently experienced in Congress and Speech as well, I coached national qualifiers in each (1 House, 2 Extemp, 1 POI) in my first year as coach
Favorite debate event is Public Forum and my favorite speech events are Extemp and OO
Coaching forensics and attending tournaments are among my favorite things in life~
Public Forum paradigm
[NATIONAL CIRCUIT ONLY — local competitors just do your best, your coach should’ve taught you how to win PF at a fundamental level, I give really extensive and constructive feedback]
- Include me on the email chain (email@example.com)
- Just win baby! [Win the round. There are a million different tactics and strategies and paths to victory in PF. If you genuinely believe you won a debate round, you should be able to tell me why and how you won.]
- I’m a tech judge (tabula rasa and all that), I flow on my computer using Flexcel
- Best way to win the round is to do the work for me
- Be kind and respectful, it would take a lot for me to change a ballot because of this but I’m pretty quick to change speaks if it’s rough
- Extend everything you’re going for through every speech except 1st rebuttal
- I vote on impacts/voters unless the framework set forth is something other than stock benefits/harms or cost-benefit analysis
- Speed is fine, if for some reason I can’t understand you I’ll either say “SLOWER” or “LOUDER”, obviously if you're spreading just send a speech doc
- I don’t flow cross but I pay attention, it’s fun, you should be able to extemporaneously explain things
- Instances where I intervene: (1) being abusive (2) theory debates (full explanation below, I'd rather you just do a substance debate) (3) fabricating/misrepresenting evidence (although I'd just prefer the other team call it out, it sucks but if I'm sitting here as a judge and I'm like "that seems false to me" I feel like you should have those instincts too.... I'm not one of those judges who calls for like nine cards after FF)
-Speaker points: 0/minimum = abuse, 26 = novice, 27 = needs improvement, 28 = solid, 29 = excellent, 30 = a top debater at this specific tournament the score is given out; I give speaker points for clarity and quality of argumentation (if there's a low speaker point win, the low team won "on the flow" but the higher team were generally better speakers and arguers and probably won the "truth" debate but not the "tech" debate). I don't bump speaks for anything arbitrary, it'd be so stupid for someone to get like a 4-2 screw bc another team mentioned a le epic meme in their speech
- Theory: [TL;DR: I would rather you just do a substance debate. I will vote for it if you convince me on a personal level that the progressive argument is worth voting for, not necessarily on the flow. Feel free to strike me if that spooks you haha, no worries.] Full explanation: On a personal level, I don’t like theory, I think the fundamental goal of PF is having high school students learn as much as possible about a specific topic/resolution and debate it. Theory goes against the initial reasons PF was created, which were talking about issues pertinent to the US and the world in a literal “public forum” — nobody’s going on Crossfire or interrupting city council meetings to talk about the inequity between speakers because life/backgrounds/resources are always going to be inherently unequal. To be clear, my perspective is one of somebody who grew up in rural Iowa in a town of 9,000 people and as the current head coach of a forensics program for a school where 56% of our student body is economically disadvantaged — I’m aware of inequality between schools and debate programs. I’ve seen teams from my school lose preposterous and arbitrary theory debates to schools with $45k yearly tuition and ten debate coaches (I’m coaching alone), debates where the primary justification for the progressive argument was “supporting small schools.” Do you see how ridiculous that is? And if you're not running a specific theory shell in each round that warrants it, it feels extremely cynical and exploitative. For example, if you're running Round Reports theory, why aren't you running that shell every single time a team doesn't do Round Reports? Because you know some teams are better at responding to it than others and some judges are better at evaluating it than others -- and if your progressive argument is a strategic move rather than a genuine gripe/concern/issue, it completely undermines your argumentation from the start. Anyway, my attempt to “bridge the gap” between not personally liking theory but wanting to recognize all legitimate debating styles is this: I become truth > tech when it comes to theory. If you convince me as a person, not as a judge/flow-er, that you have won under a progressive argumentation framework, then I’ll vote for you. So in the above example of a team with ten coaches at a private school with $45k tuition running disclosure theory against my program using "small schools" as the justification, who do you think would win? [With all that being said, I am pro-disclosure and think it's a good convention that PF has developed recently.] Most of the above also applies to Ks.
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Interp: Please have a clear theme or focus to your performance (It's why piece selection is so important -- please don't get frustrated if I downgrade a performance if I don't enjoy the piece. A prurient example of this is me judging my local circuit's DUOs one year. There was a performance of an excerpt from "Little Women" that was performed/acted beautifully... but the script was just horribly boring and the outdated language + no context for the full story of the [excellent!] novel just made it impossible to get into, so I never ranked them very high despite their great talent. In other words, be entertaining and compelling!)
Extemp: This event doesn’t leave a lot of leeway, the only consistent thing I see people do that hurts them is not answer the question accurately even if they have solid speaking/organization/etc.
Public Address: Persuade me and/or inform me, and just generally be compelling and/or entertaining, if you don’t do those things you probably won’t finish very high
Impromptu/Spont: Not telling (:
Bills: Please make them workable and just generally make them make sense, I hate disorganized and unfocused bills that have zero real-world implication
1st aff: This speech has no excuse to not be rock-solid because you technically have had a week-ish to write it, I’m way more willing to drop 3s and 4s on 1st affs that aren’t effective, give me your impacts clearly and show me why on a human level this bill is needed
1st neg: Need to respond to 2 things: the 1st aff and the bill itself, please do both otherwise it’s not worth the time and either the bill or the 1st aff’s arguments go unchecked
Subsequent speeches: These should be extemporaneous and directly respond to arguments previously made, do not be redundant with previous speeches on your side, I value speaking and argumentation above all
Questioning: Why are Congress competitors so afraid to ask questions? Most Congress speeches at least on the local Iowa level have major flaws either in argumentation/logic or in interpretation/workability of the bill, please call these flaws out if you see them, it’s not disrespectful or bad decorum to use your designated questioning time
Presiding: If I can essentially forget that you exist, you’ll get a really high rating, but if you’re constantly asking the parli for help/stumbling over procedure/messing up recency you won’t be ranked at all
Overall: Give me impacts, actually work really hard in preparation both before and during the session, speak well, and run an efficient and compelling debate
Lincoln-Douglas / Policy / World Schools
Minimal experience, but I'm always excited to learn more! I'm confident in my ability to evaluate arguments and debate but I'll probably get lost if you use excessive event-specific jargon, so please hold my hand a little
Pronouns: she / her
Style: I respond negatively to speakers who are rude, inappropriate/disrespectful, and grandstanding (my def = talking just to talk / pontificate).
Background: I have been teaching for 24 years in Iowa and Texas, and I am a debate coach. I also have legal assistant training; this, too, informs my perspective as a judge.
While I am relatively new to NSDA, don’t underestimate me; I teach speech, argumentation, and persuasion daily – same concepts, different venue.
I’m here because I prize lifelong learning, and I find these experiences are fun, rewarding, and add insight into my classroom teaching. I hope you, too, find these experiences fun and rewarding and that you learn and improve from each interaction… even if you don't win your round. :)
What I look for in a round:
I view my role in the round mainly as a trained observer and judge as teams do their work; I prefer teams to time themselves (and report the time) and I will rarely interrupt, direct, or ask for a card. However, I will note called cards and how they are subsequently used. If cards aren’t called or if points are left unchallenged, my assumption is your team agrees to their use – barring fundamentally untrue things ("racism good"). Note also that teams should extend the card’s argument and not just shorthand the author’s name.
Teams should independently, explicitly, at the beginning, address and agree upon how the round should be weighed; if not, my assumption is cost-benefit analysis.
I like roadmaps and prefer clear signposting throughout the round as these features allow all parties to be on the same page.
I can follow moderate speed – especially if it’s because you truly have a lot of strong links and evidence to present -- but if you go so fast that I miss your point, that’s on you. Same if you’re spreading or spending a lot of time talking but not actually saying anything, such as entire rounds spent on agreeing on definitions or other minutia.
Additionally, jargon doesn’t impress me; I spend my days breaking down jargon and complex topics for students, so I expect you to practice this real-world skill as well. Seeing your ability to adapt, contextualize, and show mastery without needing to resort to jargon is key for me.
During cross, ask questions to which you legitimately want answers and don't steamroll your opponents by interjecting so they can’t respond.
In your final focus, I prefer the focus to be on your case -- what are the main voters in the round and why your evidence should be preferred, why your impacts outweigh, why you should win, etc. – instead of your opponent’s case.