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Documentarians Release Sneak Peek on Preschool Economics

Well before the Obama administration moved preschool to the forefront of the political agenda by proposing a massive federal investment, a documentary film company that says it is devoted to "cutting-edge, social justice" films planned to weigh in on the issue.

California Newsreel's seven-part documentary series "The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation" will air on PBS stations in early 2014. But to take advantage of the conversation swirling around the value of preschool, the filmmakers have released one 30-minute segment, called "Are We Crazy About Our Kids." It explores the economics and benefits of investing in preschool. Major funding for the series comes from the Battle Creek, Mich.-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The California Endowment in Los Angeles.

The documentary lines up a number of well-known preschool supporters and early-education studies in this segment, such as the business alliance ReadyNation, economist James J. Heckman and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers.

Rachel Poulain, the associate producer and director of public engagement for the California Newsreel, explained in an interview that the planning process for the documentary series began more than two years ago, with shooting starting last summer. The timing of the current discussion worked out well for the filmmakers' ultimate goal, which is to prompt discussion and to spur change, Poulain said. Already, California Newsreel is hearing from some who have viewed the video, but she expects more attention when the full documentary is released, along with associated products like a discussion guide.

"We plan to offer a variety of ways to lead dialogue, and hopefully change policy as well," Poulain said.

Are We Crazy About Our Kids? is the first release from a broader series called The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation.
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