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I am firmly convinced that I could obtain funding to do any research I want in any area so long as I discuss obesity or global warming.

This paper investigates how accountability pressures under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) may affect children’s rate of overweight.  Schools facing increased pressures to produce academic outcomes may reallocate their efforts in ways that have unintended consequences for children’s health. For example, schools may cut back on recess and physical education in favor of increasing time on tested subjects.  To examine the impact of school accountability programs, we create a unique panel data set of schools in Arkansas that allows us to test the impact of NCLB rules on students’ weight outcomes.
Our main approach is to consider schools to be facing increased pressures if they are on the margin of passing – that is, if any subgroup at the school has a passing rate that is close to the AYP passing threshold, where we define close as being 5 percentage points above or below the threshold.  We find evidence of small effects of accountability pressures on the percent of students at a school that are overweight.  A follow-up survey of school principals points to reductions in physical activity and worsening of the food environment as potential mechanisms.
Now I know the authors did not say this, but now we should be wary about anything that encourages students to study more and do more hard work? The only paper I have yet to see is how obesity is impacted by global warming. Or better yet, how global warming is impacted by obesity (that’s an easy one … we are all so fat that we need so much more land to grow food, which produces lots of CO2 emissions).

3 Responses to “Obesity is to _____ Research as Global Warming is to ______ Research”

  1. Harry says:

    Wintercow, this is a priceless one for the archives. I wish somebody out there would dare to comment, but they had better have a similar sense of humor.

  2. Greg says:

    Changing gears…

    “For example, schools may cut back on recess and physical education in favor of increasing time on tested subjects. ”

    Schools also cut back on PE because they don’t have any money. It’s funny how NCLB may compel some schools to change their model to increase the amount of time students sit in front of a white board looking at algebra. Talk about diminishing returns, kids can’t sit still or are asleep because they never move throughout the entire day.

  3. Rod says:

    Yes, cattle in feedlots become cheeseburgers, and kids get left behind at McDonalds while they wait for a Happy Meal. And the feedlots add to both CO2 and methane in the atmosphere. Then it gets hot, and the kids are left behind at the Coke machine.

    Another compelling argument for the elimination of the Department of Education.

    I bet you could get a research grant to study this stuff.

    As for recess and physical ed, our local elementary schools no longer allow kids to be unsupervised during recess. It must be in the union contract.

    I spent my first two school years in a one-room school that was about 200 yards from our house. It was a marvelous system. Not only did we learn to read with phonics, but we got to listen in on the classes ahead of us and get a preview of things like long division. Our teacher would spend ten minutes with each grade, giving us eyeball to eyeball scrutiny, and then we would be given a short work assignment that we could easily complete by the time third grade had finished its session. After six grades’ lessons in an hour, we went outside for recess and played — usually a game of tag that involved throwing a rubber ball over the roof and then having the catcher of the ball run around and try to tag someone on the opposite side. Twenty minutes of running around the schoolhouse gave us plenty of exercise.

    The school had a coal stove for heat, a hand pump for water and girls’ and boys’ outhouses. We also had separate but equal cloak rooms where we kept our cloaks.

    In third grade we all moved to the “consolidated” elementary school, and everyone from the one-room school was about four or five grade levels above the big school kids. They were afflicted with “sight reading,” a magical method of reading that required the reader to see the “whole word” as a picture. So the one room kids and my brother and I spent most of the third grade sitting in the back of the room reading books.

    Whenever someone starts to speak in educationese, I recall my early school experiences and the easy lesson the schools should have learned about experimental teaching methods. Sure, I don’t want any kid left behind, but I don’t think he’s behind because he eats twinkies every day. More likely his parents are poorly educated and barely speak standard English, and they don’t read to him at home; and equally likely is that the schools pigeonhole unprepared students, and lazy teachers find it toilsome to teach grammar and the times tables. At our one-room school, we had our share of potential dummyheads. Mr. Bitting knew every day if we were learning our lessons, and he’d drill us until we got it into our skulls. I bet it’s a really easy thing to let kids log on to the Internet so they can learn about how the whales will die if capitalism causes the earth to burn up.

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