New Documentary ‘Starting At Zero’ Showcases Importance Of Early Education

“Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America” opens in virtual cinemas Aug. 14.

Kindergarten began in Germany and arrived in the United States in the mid-19th century. Since that time, kindergarten has been considered the beginning of formal education.

For a long time, researchers have known that education really starts at birth and early education (pre-K) should be available to all.

Willa Kammerer’s new documentary “Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America” showcases the importance and power of investing in high-quality early childhood education so that all children and families have equal opportunities.

The film brings together the voices of policymakers, educators, academics, business leaders, pediatricians, parents and children. It features five current and past governors who are champions of early childhood education.

“City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Kammerer, the director of the film, via Zoom ahead of the virtual cinema release Aug. 14.

In the film, researchers say that 70% of mothers with kids under 18 are in the workforce, compared to 11% in 1960. Out of 4 million kindergartners that start school each year, 20% arrived fully prepared.

“Across the board [early education] proves to be such a powerful investment because children are more likely to graduate from high school, to be employed, to go to college, to be reading at the level that they should be reading on in third grade … which has been a measure of whether they will be successful later in schooling and in life. The Alabama study has shown that students who come in from marginalized, underprivileged communities, just that one year of pre-K has a major impact of getting them to the level of their peers,” said Kammerer.

This was Kammerer’s first feature-length film.

“This is something that just evolved along the way, we actually never set out to make a feature-length film. I worked closely throughout the evolution of the project with my client,  The Saul Zaentz charitable foundation, who initially came to me with this idea about creating a ‘how-to’ video about how the state of Alabama accomplished constantly the No. 1 nationally rated pre-K program in the nation for over 10 years.”

OFFICIAL TRAILER | Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America from Starting at Zero on Vimeo.