NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If public schools were the only option for U.S. students, parents would make sure they provided the best education available, says Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) CEO Warren Buffett. Instead, their performance has lagged because the richest and most powerful families don't use them.
"The wealthy in many cities have opted out of public schools," Buffett said in a panel discussion on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday, where he was joined by Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger and former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Bill Gates. Well-off families "may engage in philanthropy, but their own kids, they send them to private schools."
During a lengthy interview broadcast from Omaha, Neb., where Berkshire Hathaway held its annual shareholders meeting over the weekend, the three also touched on global and national issues from oil prices to interest rates, health care and criticism of fast-food chain McDonald's (MCD).
"It's the elite academic types in America who say it's the wrong kind of food, the wrong kind of things, the jobs don't pay very much," said the 91-year-old Munger. In fact, he said, "it's one of the most successful educational institutions in the U.S. They take people and give them a first job, which helps them get a second job. They do a very, very good job of taking troubled youth and making model citizens."
Teens who take entry-level jobs at McDonald's, including one in Buffett's neighborhood that the billionaire frequently visits, are learning job skills from arriving on time to counting money and being polite to customers, he said. "The people know me by name," he said.