Shaker Heights

I grew up in Shaker Heights. Shaker is an amazing place. The homes are beautiful, and the charm of the city is more reminiscent of a small town in London, than Ohio. People are generally nice, and the area is really diverse. Yet, there is a big discrepancy between the life style of white and black residents in the city. However, largely this discrepancy exists in the school system. Shaker puts students of certain abilities, usually white, on certain tracks. If you are a talented student you are put into advance classes in the 5th grade. These students will remain on this track up to their graduation, after which most of them will go on to prestigious universities.

There are variations in between. I myself was never on the Advanced Placement track because I came to Shaker from Cleveland schools. I was able to get myself into Honors classes, and I did very well in all my classes, usually. Most of the others, usually black, are relegated to General level or the College Preparatory classes; as a result, our school was very stratified. This stratification penetrated deeper than academics.

In the cafeteria black students sat on one side, and whites sat on the other. There were very few mixed tables. When it came time to leave school, blacks left mostly through one door, and whites left mostly through the other doors. It could just be a coincidence that things like this occurred, but its seem rather odd that such things would happen in such a diverse community.

Shaker schools were once rated the best in the state, but recently they have fallen behind. There seems to be this unspoken belief that the schools have fallen  behind mostly because of black students, who now make up at least half of the total students in the high school levels. These students are not to blame for all of the school systems recent woes, but they do play a part. Who or what is to blame? Who knows! I don’t. Yet, one can not help but to feel as if racial tensions will be the ultimate demise of a prominent suburb. The future of Shaker could very much look like Warrensville Heights, Garfield Heights, or worse East Cleveland, if residents do not come together, and address some the racial issues that they pretend don’t exist. The average Shaker resident wakes up everyday and naively believes that the community is too diverse for racism to exist, but it does exist, and it will tear the community apart if it goes unattended.

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One Response to Shaker Heights

  1. lmertic says:

    I love Shaker Heights, and the whole eastside for that matter. I too grew up on the eastside. I grew up in Mayfield Heights, which is not far from Shaker. Shaker is a very diverse suburb, as is Cleveland Heights and University Heights. I agree with you in saying that Shaker could very well end up like Warrensville Heights, or East Cleveland…and East Cleveland is not too far from Shaker.
    I was definitely unaware that Shaker High had differences like that! My friend went to Shaker, and she is a black woman. She told me the differences of rich and poor whites and blacks intermingling together, but she never expressed to me the segregated lunch room or classes that were offered. Her and I discussed topics like this all of the time…as a matter of fact we did last night =)
    The eastside is a wonderful place, and I wish more westsiders could experience it, because in my opinion, the eastside is much more diverse….let me be correct in saying certain suburbs of the eastside of culturally diverse.

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