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Students at Struggling Drew Middle School Learn Skill Through Debate

For years, Charles Drew Middle School in South Los Angeles was so notorious for poor quality and unruly students that it was tagged “Drew Zoo.”

But don’t tell that to the 16 seventh- and eighth-graders who recently reeled off facts, fiercely presented their views and rebutted opposing arguments over homelessness and the police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. The articulate young students were participants in Drew’s inaugural schoolwide debate last month, which Principal NNamdi Uzor launched to improve research, writing and public speaking skills as encouraged by national learning standards called Common Core.