Abstract – 250

A stereotype exists that schools named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) should be avoided as they are under-performing institutions serving poor, minority children. The stereotype regarding MLK schools is an extension of a broader perception that all MLK eponymous places are undesirable and should be avoided.  This stereotype is pervasive in society and has been mentioned in scholarly research, newspapers, a radio interview with an education professional, and even a popular comedy routine. This paper analyzes the actual academic performance of more than 100 public MLK schools in situ as well as in comparison to similarly situated public schools within five miles of each MLK school to examine the validity of the stereotype in general and by neighborhood. Data is analyzed by several variables including degree of social disclosure of toponymic status on school’s website, year school was named in honor of MLK, percentage of socio-economic disadvantaged students, as well as percentage of minority students and English learners.  Academic data is gathered from standardized testing that is required by the No Child Left Behind Act. Researcher hypothesizes that the oldest MLK schools will have the worst academic performance and the newest schools will have the best academic performance and the lowest levels of poverty and minorities. Researcher postulates this is due to the mainstreaming of MLK as an American hero to be honored by all citizens, not just Black citizens, which results in increase of MLK schools in more affluent areas and improvements to existing MLK schools.

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