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Years ago, children didn’t go to kindergarten. They went right to first grade.

Eventually kindergarten began. Most youngsters attended half-day sessions that consisted of learning ABCs and 123s, how to write your name, arts and crafts, story time and in some cases, nap time (I know I didn’t get the latter, but some might have).

Nowadays, most children attend full-day kindergarten. There is more — much more — they learn in this first year. There is reading and recognizing basic sight words, writing and even the start of addition and subtraction. In my daughter’s case, a lot had to be learned, because as her teacher told me last year, “They hit the ground running in first grade.”

She wasn’t kidding, but I’m proud to say that my daughter is thriving on all levels in first grade. Her teacher said she gives it her all in every subject and activity, which makes me proud.

But what if full-day kindergarten takes a step back to half-day sessions, or if it disappears altogether?

Unfortunately, with the proposed budget Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has on the table, it just might.

The newly sworn-in governor is looking to cut costs to close a budget gap of billions of dollars. To do that, he’s taking a major swipe at the state’s public education funding. This has school district officials wringing their hands and anticipating deep cuts in their own budgets, one of which may include reducing kindergarten to half day or — perish the thought — eliminating it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Corbett. It’s hard to believe that someone who was once a teacher — he taught history and civics in the Pine Grove Area School District — could suggest such deep cuts to education.

The idea of reducing or eliminating such a crucial year in a child’s educational life, especially in today’s society, is alarming, frightening and downright uncalled for. Here we are, living in what is supposed to be the greatest nation in the world and we’re taking steps backward?! This should not be. Education should be a top priority not only in the Keystone State, but in every state in the union. Experts are always crying that many of the world’s modernized nations are ahead of us, particularly in the fields of math and science. Well, when you keep cutting education funding, what are teachers to do?

As a parent and a taxpayer in Pennsylvania, I am outraged and worried about my children’s educational future. If you live here and have children in the public school system, you should be, too.

So what’s a parent to do? Well, you can make a difference. Call, write or speak to your legislators, school board members and school district officials. Let your voices be heard. There is strength in numbers. The more people who speak up, the better. Remember: We are the ones who pay educators’ and administrators’ salaries, and we are the ones who put school board members in office! In the end, we can only hope that our state government hears our pleas and does what’s right for our children.