Legislation adopted in 2009 made Washington a member state of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (Compact). All 50 states are member states under the Compact.
The purpose of the Compact, which applies only to public schools, is to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment by their parents. The Compact, in part, is intended to:
Each member state, either through the creation of a state council or the use of an existing body or board, is required to provide for the implementation of the Compact. In Washington, the Interstate Compact Council (State Council) has been established to fulfill those obligations.
The Compact requires the State Council to include: the Superintendent of Public Instruction; a superintendent of a school district with a high concentration of military children; a representative from a military installation; one representative each from the legislative and executive branches of government; and other offices and stakeholder groups the State Council deems appropriate.
The Compact also requires the State Council to appoint or designate a military family education liaison to assist military families and the state in implementing the Compact.
Creation and Issuance of Purple Star Award to Military Friendly Schools.
The Purple Star Award (award) is created to recognize military friendly schools that show a commitment to students and families connected to the nation's military. Beginning in 2023, the award is to be issued every two years, and schools that earn the award will receive a special purple star recognition to display on site.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) may collaborate with a state agency or nonprofit organization that has experience serving military-connected students and families to administer the award.
The OSPI must make available on its website an application for schools or school districts to submit for consideration to receive the award. The application must:
Award Eligibility—Required and Optional Activities.
To be considered for the award, a school must:
To receive the award, a school must also complete one or more of following optional activities:
(In support) This is a voluntary program, but more than 25 states currently participate in the award program. Military families often transfer in the middle of the year, and this bill incentivizes schools to pay special attention to the needs of military children and will help to promote smoother transitions for students that change schools. This bill also gives students a chance to learn more about the military. The United States Department of Defense has assisted with the legislation.
Some schools already have organized practices to recognize new students and would like to be recognized as a purple star school. The professional development training is an especially important part of the bill.
The bill describes a designation process, so references to "award" in the bill should be changed to "designation." The first paragraph should also be modified.
This bill helps to alleviate challenges for transferring military students. Each year, 185,000 military students transfer from one school to another. The intent of this bill is not to provide an advantage to military students, but rather to level the playing field. Washington should join the 28 states that have adopted the award program or similar program.