Private schools versus public schools in SLO County

March 21, 2017

A third grade class at North County Christian School

All parents want the best for their children. But what are the pros and cons of a private versus public school education?

In San Luis Obispo County, there are three private schools that include elementary, junior high and high school: Mission Schools in San Luis Obispo, North County Christian School in Atascadero and Coastal Christian School in Pismo Beach. All three have a focus on character as well as education.

Two years ago, Cristin Powers decided it was worth the financial investment to give her children a private school education.

“I was initially impressed with the small class sizes and personal attention,” Powers said. “But now I find the focus on personal character to be very rewarding. Once every few months, a student from each class is awarded a certificate of recognition for acts of kindness, sharing, obedience or helpfulness.”

Private schools have higher graduation rates, more students headed to college, smaller class sizes and strict anti-bullying policies. In addition, students enjoy an unparalleled number of field trips and overnight excursions.

Public schools generally have better sports programs, more electives, and offer lunch programs and transportation to and from school. Students also have greater freedom in self-expression through dress and hairstyles.

Class size:

Local public schools average about 30 children per class.

Local private schools average about 15 students per class.

Graduation rates:

In local public schools, about 80 percent of students graduate from high school.

Last year, local private schools boasted a 100 percent high school graduation rate.

College bound:

Local public schools have a student population with an average of 50 to 60 percent  bound for college.

Local private schools have an average of 90 to 95 percent of students headed to college.


Local public schools are free.

Local private schools cost between $6,000 and $14,550. Nevertheless, most private schools have scholarships available.

On Saturday March 25, North County Christian School is hosting a free dinner banquet to inform area parents about the benefits of attending a small Christian school. To make a dinner reservation or for more information call (805) 466-4457 or register online.




P.S. And thank a teacher that you can ever read this!


My two oldest children went to private and public schools at various times. My youngest, 11 years later, has only been in public schools largely due to finances. The difference in the public schools here in just that short time span is really shocking. They public schools have completely deteriorated.

My son was reading books at SLO HS his senior year that he had read as a freshman at Mission College Prep. I think that says it all.

But don’t worry, the SL Coastal Superintendent will have a million dollar house to live in courtesy of us taxpayers while the District cuts teacher aids, librarians, etc.. What a racket.


Public schools need to up their game. Most parents I know live paycheck to paycheck and take no fancy vacations in order to keep their children out of public schools. Something must be wrong.


Was this an advertisement or an article?

Sure seems like there was an attempt to generalize at the expense of public schools here.

Take graduation rates. This implies that private schools are greatly superior. Just curious would you pay for a private school education if your child was at risk of not graduating?

Who’d continue to pay for a private education if the child was failing at the school. We all know that the free market self corrects and the child goes back to public school, or if the rich parents are truly embarrassed off they go to military school–and viola graduation rates of 100% are maintained and private schools reign superior!!

Sorry, but my kids go to public schools. Child to instructor ratio’s below 12 to 1.

You can’t touch our field trips either; Melodrama, Mont-Bay Aquarium, Catalina, Camp Keep, etc.

If you have committed parents, teachers, and community public schools can and do thrive.


MrYan, private schools will always out-perform public schools simply because they can be selective of their students (and parents), teachers, and staff. That, and a lack of unionized public employees is, in essence, a formula for greater success.

This is not to say that success cannot be had in public school, but it is a challenge for many of us (my children also did public schooling). I had to do a LOT of “damage-control” when they got home each day. Thankfully, it seems to be paying off as they mature into their own young adults.

Truth be told, if given the option (e.g. vouchers) I would have applied for Private Schooling, as most anyone would. Heck, even the pro-union politicians dare not send their own kids to public schools! How’s that for positive reinforcement? They’ll take the union money and votes, but they’ll be damned if they let them take their kids!

Extremely Stoic

The numbers speak for themselves….it must be noted though that private schools offer nothing for special education .

One of the best things going for the private schools is they can toss you out for bad behavior….that and the teachers can be fired for being lousy


In other words: Accountability. Both for parents/students and teachers/staff. Sounds like a win-win. Unless, of course, one does not appreciate being held accountable for one’s own actions or performances (or lack thereof).

Jorge Estrada

I may have flunked out of private schools but thanks to a mediocre H.S. and College degree, I have completed a lifetime career that has afford me a good productive life. Thank you public schools for affording me a path to understanding grateful.


My guess is that your education in public schools may have been many years ago. If you are involved in the Public Education structure of today, no doubt you may have a different opinion. Not all of this falls on the schools or teachers, but the parents have to take on their part of the responsibility for some of the major issues. Seems many of the parents are more concerned about sports, lack of parenting, lack of involvement and not holding the schools responsible. There is a good reason that parents strongly support private or charter schools whose real focus is on education, participation and character. .


“Local public schools are free”???? you haven’t seen your property tax bill…………..


Hmmm. I just paid $56k for my daughter to attend MCP. My tax bill is the same.

So confusing.


What a deal compared to the $71K/yr it costs to house a prisoner in Cali.

And your tax bill is the same!


Yeah, all property owners are perpetually in mortgage to the public school system. Even those without children. Then again, theoretically, they (the child-less) should benefit from a better society brought about by a better educated public.

I’m still waiting for that last part, myself. Seems we have been going backwards the last few decades. I remember asking a new teacher about the second world war, when Japan dropped the nuclear bomb on us. She replied, “history really isn’t my thing.” I concurred.

Reality Check

Vouchers have many advantages.

In addition to the private schools mentioned, add St. Patrick’s in Arroyo Grande.

Not sure if that addition changes any of the articles statistics.


I think the article was addressing schools with classes available K-12. I think St Patrick’s only has K-8 although it is also a great school and the kids have an option to continue on with private schooling at Mission High School in San Luis or St Joseph’s in Santa Maria.


Bring on the school voucher program to help supplement the cost of a private school, public schools are now a joke, they herd our children through like cattle…my grand daughter is forever coming home I asked about washing hands before lunch or after using the restroom and she replied..papa…. the teacher says we don’t have time for every student to wash there hands, so I simply went to the store and got a travel style hand sanitizer and placed it in her back pack to later get a phone call from the principal that she could be suspended for the remainder of the week for having it because it contained alcohol, as if a 6 year old knows that..Public schools are a joke… maybe if the public schools have competition with private schools they will step it up!


“maybe if the public schools have competition with private schools they will step it up!” No reason to step up as long as the unions have control.


Public schools are failing the students and the taxpayers. Now there are TWO BILLS on the table in Sacramento to make it worst: 1) after five years of teaching teachers will no longer pay State Income Tax, and 2) the unions have convinced the State that the Academic testing of the students reflecting the failures of the schools will be changed so that it will be twisted and turned to reflect all schools are great, no school is better than the other. California State should dump their entire education system and start over. Hell, the teachers can’t even figure out the Common Core math!


Why do I think that your interpretation of the proposed legislation might be just a wee bit biased? I would like to see the details of the bills before believing what you say.