Greg Mortenson’s popular and inspiring book, “Three Cups of Tea,” has motivated Portland schoolchildren, U.S. troops in Afghanistan and others to put building schools in tribal areas there and in Pakistan at the top of their list of needed reforms.

Now that an investigation by the CBS show “60 Minutes” has cast doubt on – though not totally disproved – claims made by Mortenson in his book about his achievements, some people may be tempted to conclude that school-building efforts are misguided or even futile.

That would be drawing the wrong conclusion, because it would be saying that education cannot affect attitudes or influence social or economic progress. If that’s true, we ought to be shutting down our own schools as well.

Mortenson may be guilty of exaggerating his actions and accomplishments in Pakistan, and his financial activities and record-keeping may well need more scrutiny.

But that does not render futile the efforts by Portland schoolchildren to raise hundreds of dollars to help out Afghan schools. And it does not make international development support for new schools, including girls’ schools, in Afghanistan and Pakistan unproductive.

Mortenson, who received an honorary doctorate from Colby College in 2009 and spoke to an appreciative audience of hundreds at USM last October, now is under a serious cloud of suspicion about the scope and financial probity of his school-building activities abroad.

While the truth of his writings and actions remains in doubt, the need for more and better schools in the areas he describes is not in question. Good causes are not demeaned by the flaws of their supporters.