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.