- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2017


Whether Jack Kent Cooke would have handled contract talks with Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins the way Dan Snyder did is inconsequential at this juncture.

As the owner of multiple sports teams, Cooke apparently understood that what happens before a young person becomes a professional player is as important as the bridge (high school and college education) that brought him to the pros.

Do public schools share that perspective?

Most traditional public schooling looks at education in separate silos.

There are pre-K, grade school, middle school and high school silos.

Then there are the language arts, social studies and mathematics silos.

There are mandatory, one-semester silos for health (sex), physical education, art, music and other subjects that young people sign up for because, well, they are mandatory.

Every step of the way, the overseers of each silo go their own way, as if they are not a team.

Successful coaches and their players might tell you they take one game at a time, but that’s a falsehood.

Winning teams look at the proverbial forest of the schedule and individual teams and individual players.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation plays by that line of preparation for U.S. students and their schools by giving away money — i.e., paying them for goals they already have achieved, which in turn gives them incentive to achieve additional goals.

Through mentoring and counseling programs, for example, outstanding and low-income students often get the attention they do not get in a large public high school but deserve nonetheless.

Through Cooke Foundation grants and scholarships, college-bound students and grad students get money to help pay for college, whether public or private school.

What’s more, the Cooke Foundation also is rewarding institutions of higher learning to improve the academic options for students by giving financial rewards to such programs as AP physics readiness at Mississippi State University (MSU).

“Low-income, rural students can help build a better and more prosperous future for our country, and they deserve the same opportunities as other students to get a good education and go as far as their abilities take them,” Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy said in a release. “Talented students, regardless of their geographic location and family income, need to be supported so they can reach their fullest potential.”

The instructors and counselors for the AP program will represent Stanford, Yale and MSU, and the program begins this summer.

Here again, it’s unfortunate that some kids never take the AP exam because they’re never informed of it, some kids take it and never get over the hump, and some do not even consider taking it because their families cannot afford it.

AP fees are $93 per College Board exam, and many states and cities are waiving fees for the exams — and, of course, patting themselves on the back as more students sign up for free.

At any rate, the fine point is that the Cooke Foundation is helping young people get over the bridge and onto the road to success.

That’s something that was not buried along with the business-savvy Cooke, who died in 1997, and was no sports and media dynasty in and of himself. He learned and understood that a quarterback is only as good as his offensive line and receivers, and that defense and special teams have to play to win, too.

Educators should teach students as much.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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