The California Department of Education announced its inaugural list of Purple Star Schools on Jan. 24, and all seven schools in the Silver Valley Unified School District are named; including Fort Irwin Middle School, Lewis Elementary School, and Tiefort View Intermediate School.
The complete list includes 31 K-12 schools in the state.
The newly created California Purple Star School Designation Program (Purple Star Program) publicly recognizes schools that are committed and equipped to meet the unique needs of military-connected students and their families. Purple Star Program schools seek to reduce the burdens on military-connected students and their families by providing support, creating transition programs, and offering staff professional development. This is the first year that schools are being recognized for this award, and the California Department of Education plans to make it an annual recognition program.
“Congratulations to the educators, staff, administrators, parents, and students at these schools,” said Thurmond. “These schools are crucial to supporting our military-connected students and ensuring that they maintain their academic, college, and career aspirations while their parents serve our country.”
The military is one of the United States’ largest workforces, with more than two million active duty service members and individuals serving in the National Guard and Reserves. Many of these service members are parents or guardians of minor children. In 2017, California had 184,540 active duty service members and 56,167 individuals serving in the National Guard and Reserves.
Military-connected students must move whenever their active-duty parent or guardian receives a relocation order. These required relocations mean that a military-connected child can expect to change schools between six and nine times from grades K-12, which is three times more often than nonmilitary-connected children. As military-connected students transition between schools, often to different states and countries, they must adapt to varying cultures, school populations, curricula, standards, course offerings, schedules, and graduation requirements. As a result, military-connected students often face unique academic and social-emotional challenges and struggle to stay on track to be college- and career-ready.
The Purple Star Program’s true value derives from its potential to:
- Centralize and make knowledge accessible,
- Develop stakeholder networks, and
- Support schools in cultivating and communicating cultural competency in supporting military-connected families.