Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Obesity, Physical Education and NCLB

Dan Meyer insists:

To state that NCLB is a leading cause of child obesity is "sensational."

The full passage in question and in context, from an article in the California Educator, reads as follows (the part he quotes in italics):

In addition, more than half of California school districts reviewed are giving students less physical education than the law requires, according to the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education blames NCLB for increased obesity among youth.

Even recess is being left behind because of pressure to raise test scores in many schools, according to the federal Department of Education. In some communities, new schools are being built without play areas.

Dan asks:

Does anybody outside the echo chamber believe any of these? I can’t decide which assertion is more absurd, or if the issue is even one of absurdity. Perhaps these are just suppositions run horribly amock... I’ve never seen even anecdotal evidence that physical education has been threatened since NCLB (nor does California Educator bother to supply any).

Dan didn't see any evidence because he did not look. This CNN article is easy to find:

A national study by the Center on Public Education published earlier this year on the implementation of the No Child Left Behind law found that 71 percent of the districts surveyed had elementary schools that cut back on instructional time for a subject to make room for more reading and math -- the primary focus of the law.

But is there any evidence of a connection between PE time and obesity? The answer is yes.

So if you ask a gym teacher about the effect of NCLB, it is perfectly reasonable to cite increasing obesity and decreasing health and PE hours. I mean, what else would they say?

The suppositions run amok are coming from Dan, who is all too ready to discount large swathes of his fellow teachers as idiots, without considering their point of view, or the evidence, at all.

1 comment:

Chris Lehmann said...

And it's not like The Hoover Institute is a particularly lefty institution. Using their research, combined with the research about how many hours of PE schools are cutting is a damned compelling argument.