Friday Roundup: Labor peace on the waterfront, rural schools, education reform, taxing the rich, and support for Millennium

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Seattle Times (editorial): Has Legislature solved McCleary? Not so fast

The Supreme Court should be reticent to pronounce “mission accomplished” on school funding reform until school officials have time to fully analyze the new system the Legislature passed in a whirlwind more than a month ago.

The News Tribune (editorial): Hurray for long-term labor peace on Tacoma waterfront

If the Port of Tacoma is Pierce County’s economic engine, as local officials like to say, then a three-year extension of a crucial labor contract is like a well-timed spark plug replacement. Tacoma and other West Coast ports are now more likely to fire on all cylinders heading into the next decade.

The deal between the longshore union and shipping industry employers, ratified earlier this month, is a piece of preventive maintenance they were smart to take care of. The contract had been set to expire in 2019; it will now run until July 2022.

A state organization representing union construction workers formally endorsed Millennium Bulk Terminal’s Longview coal project last week when members approved a resolution submitted by the Longview/Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council.

Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council members voted unanimously to support the $680 million project at its 61st Convention in Tacoma last week.

Recently The Tax Foundation looked into the commonly held belief that rich Americans used to pay much higher income taxes in the 1950s than they do today. It found that the difference between then and now isn’t actually that significant:

The data shows that, between 1950 and 1959, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid an average of 42.0 percent of their income in federal, state, and local taxes. Since then, the average effective tax rate of the top 1 percent has declined slightly overall. In 2014, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid an average tax rate of 36.4 percent.

The confusion may stem from the fact that the top marginal income tax used to be 91 percent. But the Tax Foundation found that the effective tax rate in the 1950s was 16.9 percent.

Three lawsuits have been filed to challenge the new tax. One argument is that state law expressly prohibits cities from levying a tax on net income.

But [attorney Paul] Lawrence said the new city ordinance specifically taxes gross income, not net income. He said he believes the Legislature did not intend to prohibit cities from passing income taxes altogether.

Another argument is a constitutional debate about whether the city’s income tax is a property tax…The state Supreme Court in the 1930s ruled such an income tax is a property tax, and therefore is unconstitutional. The court made the wrong call, Lawrence said.

U.S. News: Education reform isn’t in repeat

The nation’s very first charter school celebrates the 25th anniversary of its opening this year. For more than a century, American public education meant one government operator of public schools in each geographic area and students assigned to schools based on their home addresses.

It probably seemed a fool’s errand to try to create a new approach to public education, one that enabled a wide array of nonprofits to run a diverse collection of schools from which families could choose. But today, about 3 million kids attend about 7,000 charter schools, and in 17 cities, charters educate at least 30 percent of students.

The Daily Yonder: Close a rural school, hurt a rural community

School closures threaten the well-being of rural communities. Schools matter, of course, for the education they provide. They cultivate skills and knowledge that a child can apply across contexts and settings throughout his or her life. But they also develop the skills and knowledge particular to a specific place — skills and knowledge necessary for participating in, working in, and leading a particular community. Rural schools create the generation responsible for a community’s future — and, therefore, its sustainability.