Politician concerned about what she doesn't see at CMS graduatio - | WBTV Charlotte

Politician concerned about what she doesn't see at CMS graduations

(Dedrick Russell | WBTV) (Dedrick Russell | WBTV)

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham is concerned about what she has seen at several Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) high school graduations. 

Cotham has been to several of them and thinks the ceremonies possibly highlight inequities happening inside schools. The politician thinks more music should be heard at graduations. She is concerned some schools have a band to perform the graduation march while others have to rely on a soundtrack.

"That bothers me," Cotham said. "And I am not talking about the entertainment part of it, I am talking about kids having opportunities."

Cotham wonders about the high schools don't have bands or choral groups perform at graduations. She is concerned students at those schools are missing out on opportunities.

"Next year when I go to graduation," Cotham said. "That I would see more music because I think music adds not just to the event, but adds to the student's life."

Cotham says she is also concerned about certain K-8 schools that don't offer music or art. She believes that could be an issue once those students go to high school.

"Those schools feed into these high schools," Cotham said. "And then maybe they don't have the kids that can do that."

She has called school staff to inquire why no music or art was offered. Cotham says she was told there weren't enough resources, the emphasis is on reading.

"I understand that," Cotham said. "That is critical and there is a test in reading but music helps with reading and math. It trains their brains and adds joy."

Cotham says she wants to help if CMS needs assistance with funding for music and art.

CMS School Board member Thelma Byers-Bailey has seen the differences at graduations too. She doesn't see an issue.

"They really do try to individualize the ceremonies," Byers-Bailey said.

The school board member says getting all high school band members to show up at a graduation to perform after school has let out for the summer maybe a challenge. Byers-Bailey also says graduations are all about choice.

"West Charlotte's band is robust," Byers-Bailey said. "But they weren't here this morning - they had the chorus. It's just who they want to feature."

Byers-Bailey says starting next year there will be enough resources to provide all K8’s with music and arts, while Cotham wants to be sure all schools are getting the same opportunities.

"I am just all about let's just try and do what's right for all of our kids," Cotham said.

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