Education Empowerment

What Do Elon Musk and the City of North Las Vegas Have in Common? Micro Schools

Elon Musk is at it again. Well, he has actually been at it for almost eight years. 

No, this isn’t another social media acquisition. No, it isn’t another Tesla model or a Cybertruck. No, this isn’t even a SpaceX launch.

Elon Musk started a school. His school, Ad Astra, was founded back in 2014. They held class in a SpaceX conference room for the original eight students. 

Just like all of Musk’s projects, he was thinking outside the box. The students learn about artificial intelligence and how to give a presentation to a large audience. They learn coding languages instead of foreign languages. Sports are not part of the school day, although they do spend their lunch hour playing dodgeball. Ethics is a huge part of their learning, with discussions around topics such as whose fault it is that a factory is polluting a nearby lake. 

Ad Astra is a micro school, and has since morphed into Synthesis. You have heard about micro schools through their rise in popularity in response to COVID shutdowns. The sponsors of some of these micro schools may surprise you.

The City of North Las Vegas has gotten in on the action. When Clark County School District (CCSD) shut down in response to COVID-19, the city council knew that many of the children in their town would suffer in their education. They partnered with the Nevada Action for School Options to create their own micro school. The result is the Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy (SNUMA). And the results have been staggering.

At the beginning of their first year, 71% of third graders were below reading level. By December of that same year, 70% were at or above grade level in reading, with similar results in mathematics. 

We know that Elon Musk has the resources to just make a school happen. But the City of North Las Vegas got creative to make it happen.

North Las Vegas used its city funds to create the small flexible classes to address the learning loss that was sure to happen due to CCSD schools being online. The city provides the space in its recreation centers and public libraries for the learning to happen. The partner organization is providing the training and curricula to help the city individualize the learning.

Both Ad Astra and SNUMA are meeting the needs of their students, even though those needs are different in both locations. Neither school holds the children back from learning. A student moves on to bigger and greater things when they are ready.

These are not the only partnerships in micro schools across the country. In fact, many companies are considering their own micro school as a perk to their employees. Imagine part of your work day being able to volunteer in your child’s school, which happens to be down the hall. 

So whether you are a city trying to serve your citizens or the CEO of a Silicon Slopes company, you may want to begin a micro school.