Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Complex
The Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Complex near Lincoln Center houses six small schools with themes that range from science and law to the arts. The building, long known for its champion soccer team, is calmer and more orderly than it was a decade ago. Several of the small schools have strong academics, good attendance and high graduation rates. However, not all of the small schools have been successful. Security remains tight: Students must pass through metal detectors to go to class. The schools in the building share a library, a cafeteria, gyms and sports teams.
Manhattan/Hunter College High School of Science, on the top floor of the building, offers students a demanding college prep curriculum. All seniors take their academic classes on the Hunter College Campus on the Upper East Side and are eligible for free tuition if they attend Hunter after graduating from high school. The school has strong teaching, a high graduation rate, and a good record of college acceptances.
The High School of Law, Advocacy, and Community Justice has better than average rates of attendance and graduation. Several teachers are also lawyers. Students may study legal concepts and learn how city government works. Teachers say they encourage student to apply to their “dream” college.
At the High School for Arts, Imagination, and Inquiry, the High School of the Arts and Technology, and the Urban Assembly School for Media Studies, the arts are woven into regular academic classes. The newest school in the building in the Special Music High School, an extension of the Special Music School. The Department of Education closed Manhattan Theatre Lab High School because of poor academic performance.
Martin Luther King High School was divided into small schools beginning in 2002 in an attempt to improve safety and academic performance. Metal detectors were added after a shooting and a sexual assault in the 1990s. In 2002, shortly before the DOE announced that it would phase out Martin Luther King, a student shot two other students inside the building after sneaking through a side door. Nonetheless, the old Martin Luther King High School had a small group of academically serious students -- even one who came in 10th in a prestigious national science competition. (Clara Hemphill, January 2012)