Two tough words: class assignment

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May is the month when school begins winding down - and parents start gearing up to influence next year's class and teacher assignments.

As the mother of a kindergartner, I am new to this business. I had heard that assignments were mailed out in June, but I hadn't thought to worry - until the principal's letter arrived.

This note, sent home in mid-April to every parent, was a masterpiece of diplomacy. The principal declared her intention to make the process open and fair. She welcomed parents to write if they had major concerns, but advised against lobbying the staff or expecting to influence the decision.

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The principal closed by explaining that, once lists are drawn up, changes could be made only in extreme cases.

This letter, which seemed to ask for my input and yet preclude my giving it, aroused anxiety. I wondered if I, too, should fire off a letter invoking my parental rights. The problem: I wouldn't know which first-grade teacher to lobby for, as I haven't met any of them yet.

The process of drawing up class lists appears quite mysterious, and the power wielded by my son's current teacher seems awesome. Her recommendation could make or break his entire next year, or so the theory goes.

It must be difficult to achieve the right balance among children of varying degrees of development. The quartet of kindergarten teachers, after eight months of observing group dynamics and individual behavior, will attempt to create four ideal first-grade classes, matched to the perfect instructors.

This is one of those times when I should take a deep breath and let the professionals do their job. Even so, I feel the concerns rising. Now, where did I put that pen?

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