Pull Your Own Weight: The educational administrator’s trifecta

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A column by Rick Osbourne

School boards and educational administrators are the bottom line decision makers who determine the high priorities, low priorities, and no priorities in any school system. And for a variety of reasons, there’s not a school system in the nation today who has not focused in like a laser beam on academic performance as their top priority. School administrators are judged first and foremost on the academic performance of the students attending their schools…so that becomes job one for everyone right from the get go.

Anti-social behaviors such as bullying, teasing, and taunting have also received a lot of attention recently, so many school administrators have put a spotlight this issue as well. A third issue that’s garnered a boatload of attention over the past several years is childhood obesity. In fact one US Surgeon General has gone so far as to label childhood obesity “America’s number one health threat.” And first lady Michelle Obama with her Let’s Move initiative has made childhood obesity her top priority, her cause of causes.

Prioritizing Childhood Obesity in School…Not
But unlike academic performance and anti-social behavior/bullying, it’s almost impossible to find a school administrator anywhere who has made the childhood obesity epidemic a top strategic priority. A simple Google search of school district websites in any geographical area will confirm this notable void.

Even if you go to the Physical Education page of the website you’d be lucky to find childhood obesity mentioned at all, let alone prioritized in any significant way. On the other hand when administrators’ (i.e. bosses) priorities effectively crowd out childhood obesity prevention, what are Physical Educators to do? They don’t determine strategic priorities for the school system. Their hands are tied if they want to keep their jobs.


Despite Being Linked to Academics and Bullying
However, over the past several years numerous studies have linked childhood obesity directly to poor academic performance as well as to anti-social behaviors. Moreover, childhood obesity has been shown to undermine academic performance and to exacerbate behaviors like bullying, taunting, and teasing. So, when obesity decreases, academic performance naturally improves, and anti-social behaviors are naturally reduced!

This being the case, why would any educational administrator in their right mind avoid taking systematic, preventative action against childhood obesity immediately if not sooner? In doing so they’d jump three gigantic hurdles for the price of one.

The Educational Administrator’s Trifecta!
First they’d be celebrated for actively tackling a dreaded disease, a horrible disability that’s affecting millions of children across the nation, and that has profound implications for their adulthood. Secondly, by successfully taking this first step, academic performance automatically improves, while anti-social behaviors are automatically reduced. If I was a bookie I’d label that “the educational administrator’s trifecta.” Anyone up for a bet?

P.S. And if they want to become political heroes in their local community administrators need only show the voters how they’ll save millions annually in unnecessary taxes by beating childhood obesity. Ever hear the phrase “no brainer?” This really is a no brainer.


Rick Osbourne is a former physical educator and a pioneer in the field of functional childhood obesity prevention. He currently serves as President of the Pull Your Own Weight Foundation which is an Illinois based, 501c3, not for profit organization whose focus is functional childhood obesity prevention. He’s written and published three books in this field, the latest of which is entitled Beating Childhood Obesity Now: A Simple Solution for Parents and Educators. He’s the Examiner’s national childhood obesity prevention correspondent. He writes an online column for The Edvocate. And you can connect with Rick via Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook.

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