While the rest of the world speeds ahead of us academically on the secondary level and countries like China concentrate on creating their own MITs and Stanfords, our best state universities have created a fratty, patriarchal sports culture that is often antithetical to good citizenship.
With Paterno's breach of integrity, yet another myth of great American male leadership has cracked. Another cultural elder was revealed as nothing more than a ruthless businessman seeking to protect his institution at all costs.
His main supposition is that none of us truly knows what we would do in that very same situation until we're in "McQueary's shoes," and that it's easy for us to judge and condemn others when we might actually behave in the same manner.
Fear and loyalty are a deadly mix when it comes to breaking out of a comfort zone and doing "the right thing" -- in this case, the two worked together to create a miserable mix of cover-ups, ongoing, preventable abuse and deceit.
Media shock and awe descended upon Happy Valley this week, but nothing was more shocking than the outcries and outrage leveled against Mike McQueary, the Penn State football team's wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator -- and the whistleblower against Jerry Sandusky.
It is a damning indictment of our society's priorities when the number of wins a man has accumulated as a football coach takes precedence over his role in allowing an accused pedophile to have continued access to children.
The teachable moment for us parents that Penn State drives home is the ongoing role we play to help our children make moral decisions. Most likely, our children will never be confronted with such a horrific situation. Instead they face a thousand cuts of ethical quandaries.
The Penn State scandal not only marks the end of Coach Joe Paterno's brilliant career, it is the death knell for the old crisis management canard that a good reputation is a bulwark against future bad news.