Is Wacky Politics or Weak Education Causing Millennials to Shun Western Nevada County?

A local blogger at the Sierra Foothills Report claims that our wackadoodle politics is inhibiting Millennials from considering Nevada County as a relocation destination.

We are falling behind in economic development, including drawing college-educated millennials and attracting and retaining young families from the rest of California, including — God forbid! — the Bay Area. Wackadoodle politics do not interest them. This a pragmatic issue, not an ideological one.

In my view, it is far more than politics that is inhibiting Millennials from seeking jobs and homes in Nevada County. The cost of housing is well outside the economics of most Millennials unless both partners are employed, but that is not how they see their parenting responsibilities.

Millennials will put their kids ahead of their careers.Young, well-educated young mothers and fathers, will find a way to balance their career expectations against their parental responsibilities. Millennials who have already shown willingness to decouple identity from work.

… [Y]oung parents leverage their expectation of job mobility to enjoy alternating periods of working and staying home, or working from home. The direct implication is that there will be more sharing of responsibilities, including shopping, cleaning and child care …

Given this focus on their children,  Millennials will move to communities with strong highly rated schools — not Nevada County.

Nevada County Schools are no longer near the stop in academic standing, with academic rankings sliding from past highs in the late 1990s. In 2013 Nevada County seventh grade math students are ranked 37th, tied with Napa County. On the upside third grade readers are ranked 7th, tied with Alameda and Contra Costa. Nevada County has the highest graduation rate, ranked as #1. The problem is these students are ranked against other students in California which are not performing well when compared to the national averages, in fact, California Schools are at the bottom of the educational barrel.

The 2013 STAR testing standard ranges from 200 to 1000. Schools scoring less than 800 are required to come up with a correction plan to get back to 800. Eleven out of 18 of Nevada County K-8 schools had scores less than 800. More than half of the schools are not performing. Some schools have been on the list for three years, and could be closed for poor performance.

Nothing to be bragging about to Millennia families thinking about moving to Nevada County.

It is more than “waskadoodle”politics that are inhibiting Millennials from coming to western Nevada County, as claimed by our blogger at the Sierra Foothills Report.


About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
This entry was posted in Analysis, Education, Human Behavior, Jobs and Economy, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Is Wacky Politics or Weak Education Causing Millennials to Shun Western Nevada County?

  1. jeffpelline says:

    Russ, Your “wackadoodle politics” have left western Nevada County behind. You are part of the problem, not the solution.


    • Russ Steele says:


      My side of the political spectrum was not the ones to block housing development with environmental lawsuits. The lack of inventory is driving prices out the range of Millennials with children who want to raise kids on one income, so mom or dad can stay home with the kids. It was not my side of the political spectrum that populated school boards with environmental wackos who hires poor teachers who cannot teach math, promote anthropogenic global warming and socialism. We did not elect School Superintendents who think that mediocre performance is good enough. I note that you did not subject your child to this failed educational system, but opting for a more academic oriented school, and he will be going to a selected group high school. My side of the political spectrum tried to bolster the poor academic performance of the schools and failed so far. Teacher’s Union did not want any academic competition which would highlight teacher failings.

      A research study of education and economic development shows that:
      • There is a clear consensus among researchers that education enhances productivity.
      • Research indicates that quality public schools can help make states and localities more economically competitive.
      • Public schools indisputably influence residential property values.
      • Emerging evidence suggests that the quality, size, and shape of school facilities themselves affect economic development.

      The problem if far more complex than your claim that wackadoodle politics is responsible for causing Millennials to shun western Nevada County.


  2. stevefrisch says:

    Russ if what you claim is true that it is housing costs and schools that are discouraging millennials to what do you attribute the fact that Truckee, roughly on par with western Nevada County in 1980, is now substantively outperforming the ‘west’ in median income, population growth, job growth, wage growth, educational attainment and has a 10 year younger demographic even while the ski industry has been flat?


    • Russ Steele says:

      I think that Truckee has demonstrated much stronger leadership on the real issues than we have seen on the west side of the County. In some of the broadband meetings I attended in Tahoe, I met quite a few self-directed people that were more interested in solving problems, rather than waiting for the government solve them. We got a lot of flapping lips and not much action on the west side of the County. Truckee is more action oriented. I congratulate them on their successes.

      I fear, your younger population will soon grow tired of the snow and cold. We have met quite a few here in the DelWeb community that has moved from Tahoe trading the snow and cold for warmer weather. We bought our house here from one who moved after four years in Tahoe. One bought our property in Mendocino and are building a house, tired of the winter weather in Tahoe and the crowds in the summer.


      • stevefrisch says:

        Russ I do think there are some lessons that can be learned from Truckee and to some degree the highly positive things happening in Sonora and Bishop. (I would put Auburn and Redding in the positive too, but for different reasons.)

        In Truckee the community leadership you identified made substantial public sector investment in both traditional infrastructure and in non traditional economic development support which in many other areas is seen as either superfluous or outside the role of government. Things like affordable housing, streetscapes, road narrowing, parking systems, bike and pedestrian trials, recreational facilities, direct investment in specific economic development projects in the several millions of dollars, and more. Truckee is certainly still ‘behind’ when it comes to arts and cultural amenities but I think that is coming.

        My point is that smart investment in these things, coupled with real public participation in planning and development issues to minimize land use conflicts up front, has led to community consensus around supporting good projects. That has led to job and wage growth and increased property values driving a growing tax base that the community can reinvest in amenities.

        Re: young people growing tired of colder weather, my experience coming here as a young person (I was 29) and living here 27 years, is the young have little problem with the cold, which believe me is not cold compared to my childhood in the should crushing bitterness of the midwest since Truckee has a 40 degree temperature variation in the winter, it is their opportunity for powder. Generally people move when they reach 60 and don’t want to deal with it any more.


    • Russ Steele says:

      I think it a combination of housing, schools and lack of an engaged community and some silly politics which the Millennials might not be comfortable with. It is not just one issue, it is a collection of issues. The biggest issue is the weak community leadership.


  3. Russ Steele says:

    Today’s millennial parents show a traditional streak: 48% say, “children do best if a stay-at-home mom raises them.”


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