Buffett’s Thoughts on Public Education

It’s no secret that people look to Buffett when they need investment advice. The Oracle of Omaha has established himself as one of the greatest investors in the world, and is therefore admired by many. While it’s easy to find news discussing what stock Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is buying and selling, it’s important not to overlook simple advice from the wise octogenarian as well.

Public education has been a hot topic during recent years since America has been falling behind in international rankings. There has been a push for setting national standards, thoughts that we should select our teachers more carefully, and questions on what to do with special needs children. But, have you ever thought about what Warren Buffett has to say on the matter?

Back in 2005, at a Berkshire Hathaway meeting, Warren Buffett touched on the subject briefly. After simply stating that he is “a big believer in public schools,” he first introduced the issue he seems to have the biggest problem with: the rich have opted out of the public education system.

“I imagine that if I used the local golf courses, I’d care a lot about how they were managed and maintained— it’s the same with schools,” he comments. “There’s a two-tiered system right now.”

More recently, however, Warren Buffett and his long-time friend Bill Gates have been increasing efforts to improve the public education system. Gates is known for putting millions of dollars into school reform efforts, as well as funding and advocating the development of the Common Core. Warren Buffett, while not opposing a national standard for education, thinks the biggest problem has not changed over the last decade.

“It’s easy to solve the problems of public education in America. All you have to do is outlaw private schools and assign every child to public school by lottery,” he said.

Obviously this is a little bit extreme, but if sort of makes sense. Buffett is well-known as an advocate for equal opportunity and advancing in status, and he thinks that private schools hinder those opportunities.

Essentially, allowing the minority population (wealthy families) to opt out of public schooling negatively effects the education system overall, since majority of families cannot afford that. Buffett thinks that in order to improve the education system, we need some of the rich to care more about them. Buffett even said that his own father had served on the school board, even though it was “thankless.”

It’s refreshing to see two of the richest men in the world work toward a public education system that America can be proud of. Both Buffett and Gates show no signs of slowing down.

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