07/19/2012 09:28 am ET | Updated Sep 17, 2012

Another Take on Penn State

In the wake of the horrific revelations of wanton sexual child abuse by former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky and the silence regarding Sandusky's behavior from former Head Football Coach Joe Paterno and other University officials, many are numb with disbelief. How could this happen? How could legendary coach Paterno and respected University officials turn a blind eye to such behavior? Could the answer be that our culture places more of a premium on winning college football games than it does on the safety of our children?

Some have suggested that we have gradually become more and more permissive and tolerant of abuse inflicted upon our young. The seeds for such permissiveness begin with the limited priority placed on how our children are treated. Today, we have more children in poverty than at any time in US history. We also have more children who are homeless and more who wake up hungry. Child obesity is at an all-time high. Sadly, the incidences of children being stolen from their homes or physically abused by family members seem to be all too frequent. And of course, kids don't vote.

While I know we value our children in this country -- child sex offenders are rightly viewed as deviants and pariahs in our society -- there clearly is a question of priority as it relates to children's needs. How is it that such respected people at Penn State could, in good conscience, look the other way as these kids were being abused? Was this an anomaly?

One thing is for sure. Our culture does not place a priority on ensuring that our children are educated. How is it that we know that every 26 seconds of a school day a child will drop out of school; that nearly half of the children of color in this country will not graduate from high school; that 70% of the kids in 8th grade aren't performing at grade level and there is no public outrage in response? Indeed, many apologists for the status quo continue to point to the future of reform without any recognition of the need to educate our kids today. Because our leaders and those running our school systems don't have a sense of urgency about the state of education in this country, every day folks fail to realize that we are in the midst of a crisis. And unless you are one of the growing number of families affected by the malfeasance exhibited by some of our schools then this has no relevance.

Admittedly, failing to educate our children isn't equivalent to the type of sexual abuse evident in the Penn State matter.

But the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil attitude exhibited by those Penn State leaders mirrors the head-in-the-sand mindset of many who know our children are not receiving the education they deserve.

It is said that each generation is judged by how it treats its children. To that end, future generations may not look at the Penn State situation as reflective of our time, but my fervent hope is that history judges us as the generation who created a high quality education system that enables all children to maximize their own human potential.