9 Takeaways You Need To Know About Education And Tuesday’s Election

Education issues in the elections.

With the midterms on Tuesday, we’ve devoted our weekly roundup to focus on education’s role in the election. Here are our nine takeaways of key issues and trends to watch:

1. Teachers are flexing their (political) muscles

With just days to go, both of the major teachers’ unions have devoted their considerable resources to the election.

The American Federation of Teachers has its members on the ground, making calls and knocking on doors, for more than 100 key Senate, House and gubernatorial races.

While the AFT is focused more on national races, the National Education Association (the largest U.S. teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members) is primarily targeting state and local races.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. This has been a year packed with teacher activism. There were walkouts and demonstrations in five states. What did they want? Their main concerns were better pay and working conditions. Arizona, West Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky and Oklahoma are also states with some of the lowest education funding rates in the nation, as well as very low rates of teacher pay.

For education advocates, conversations on funding education are long overdue.

In a report, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities called the last 10 years, “A Punishing Decade for School Funding.” Twenty-five states are still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008, according to this report by the AFT.

2. Keep an eye on the governor’s races

Education is the No. 2 issue in campaign ads for governors, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. It falls to 15th when you look at federal races, says Travis N. Ridout, the project’s co-director. This, he explains, is reflective of the importance of states vs. the federal government in setting education policy.

There are 36 gubernatorial races on Tuesday. Seventeen of those, because of retirements and term limits, will see a new governor in office. And 12 states will elect governors who appoint the state school chief (often called a superintendent).

New Mexico and Maryland are two states where the governor will have to make tough choices right away: rewriting the formula used to determine how funds are distributed to schools.

3. Follow the money

Voters in Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Colorado, Missouri and Utah will see education funding measures on the ballot. All told, these could add $2.6 billion for early childhood, K-12 and higher education. That’s according to the Center for American Progress.

“We’re seeing voters are looking to find ways to increase state funding for public education,” says Jessica Yin of CAP. (You can read the full report here.)

Colorado is considering the biggest increase in education funding: $1.6 billion. Amendment 73 proposes to create a Quality Public Education Fund through tax hikes for corporations and individuals who earn more than $150,000 a year.

4. ‘Non-traditional’ funding sources

Three states are looking at new sources of education revenue.

Michigan is mulling whether to legalize recreational marijuana. If approved, 35 percent of excise taxes on weed in the state would go towards K-12 education, with the rest of the revenue devoted to local governments and road repairs. Voters in Missouri are considering a similar measure. If passed, the proposal would legalize medical marijuana and funnel tax revenue towards veteran healthcare and early childhood education.

(The idea to fund education by taxing marijuana sales has appeared on state ballots before. Voters in Nevada, Oregon and Colorado approved similar measures, since as early as 2012.)

Maryland, meanwhile, is looking at casino revenue to support early education, career and technical education, dual enrollment programs and more. The measure is anticipated to generate at least $750 million in supplemental funding from 2020 to 2022.

5. A “blue wave?”

Many Democrats are predicting an anti-Trump blue wave that will lead their party to take the House. Democrats only need 23 seats to take control. The numbers, however, seem less favorable to Democrats when it comes to taking over the Senate.

So what does that mean for education policy?

Democratic control of the House could bring a new push to update the Higher Education Act. This is the main federal law governing approximately $120 billion in annual federal financial aid spending through grants, loans and work-study. It also covers anti-sex discrimination rules found under Title IX. The legislation was first passed in 1965 and last updated in 2008.

In the past year, both parties submitted their own bills with — wait for it — major differences. The two sides are currently are at an impasse, particularly on guidelines for federal student aid and regulations of for-profit colleges. A Democratic majority in the House could allow for enough bipartisan cooperation to pass a renewal, says Bethany Little, a principal of the Education Counsel, an educational consulting firm.

6. The DeVos factor

The controversial U.S. Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, has been mentioned in $3 million worth of political TV ads and dozens of Facebook ads, overwhelmingly Democratic, according to a new analysis by Politico.

In races and states where public education is a big issue, her work advocating for vouchers and charter schools, scaling back civil rights protections for students, and siding with loan servicing companies over student borrowers could motivate many voters, even though DeVos’ name isn’t on the ballot.

7. Key Race: Arizona governor

David Garcia, a professor at Arizona State University, is running on the Democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

Ducey is campaigning on how he ended the teacher walkouts this spring: by signing a bill that promised a 20 percent raise to teacher salaries. NPR has reported that the legislation does not require that every teacher get a 20 percent raise.

The race could be a nailbiter. Garcia has attacked Ducey’s record on education but has faced a “crush of spending from incumbent Ducey and his allies,” reports Bret Jaspers of member station KJZZ.

Arizona will also be voting on the future of school vouchers. Proposition 305 will try to expand the state’s voucher program from special-needs students to all students in the state.

Republican Ducey is a firm supporter of charter schools in the state, saying he’s skeptical of the “profit motive” of charter institutions.

8. Key Race: Wisconsin governor

Democrat Tony Evers, the current superintendent of public instruction, is up against Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, with education as the spotlight issue of the race.

About 40 percent of voters there put K-12 education as one of their top two issues, according to polling by Marquette University Law School.

Public education has experienced a bumpy road in Wisconsin since Walker took office in 2011. Funding for K-12 schools saw a $749 million cut during Walker’s first two years in office. Last year, the state boosted funding by $649 million, a figure Walker has frequently cited in his campaign ads.

Although Wisconsin wasn’t a part of the 2018 wave of teacher walkouts, teachers there did express their brooding discontent in 2011. Teacher unions in the state lost collective bargaining rights when Walker passed an anti-union act.

(Following its passage, median salaries dropped by 2.6 percent and median benefits by 18.6 percent, and many teachers left their jobs, according to the left-leaning Center for American Progress.)

Evers is proposing increased investment in all levels of education, from early childhood through higher ed. Polling suggests Evers has an edge with independents, but according to Shawn Johnson of Wisconsin Public Radio, “Wisconsin’s Republican Party has a proven record of getting its voters to turn out.”

9. One key congressional race

Keep an eye on this one: West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional district. It’s an open seat in an impressively red district that’s currently held by a Republican, and yet Democrats see a chance to flip it blue.

Polls suggest a competitive race between two state lawmakers: Democrat Richard Ojeda and Republican Carol Miller.

Ojeda is a state senator, army veteran and former high school teacher. Miller is a member of the state House of Delegates and a small business owner.

As state senator, Ojeda has been a fierce advocate for education, including better pay for teachers. He became the face of teacher walkouts in the state earlier this year, to the point where some protesters chanted his name, reported Politico.

For her part, Miller has focused her campaign on economic growth, particularly for the coal industry, gun rights and combating the opioid epidemic.

Miller is a pro-Trump candidate, riding on the tailcoat of the president’s success in the region. Ojeda, on the other hand, has vocalized regret for voting for Trump in 2016. (In 2016, 73 percent of voters in the district voted for President Trump.)



his year, I attended about 10 out of the 34 presentations at this year’s Digital Content NewFronts. (Actually, I attended 11 – because The New York Times held two events, but it only listed one of them on the official IAB agenda.) By combining what I saw and heard with a quick review of the 629 articles about the 2017 Digital Content NewFronts, I believe that I’m in a fairly solid position to select the top 10 takeaways from the 10-day marketplace.

Now, what follows isn’t “all the news that’s fit to print.” But, hopefully this article does contain strategic insights, critical data, and trends in the digital video marketing business. That’s always been my objective. So, without further ado, here are my top ten takeaways from actually attending about a third of the #NewFronts2017 events:

NewFronts 2017: Top 10 Takeaways

#1 More new digital video content than you can shake a stick at. Most presenters used the 2017 Digital Content NewFronts to showcase new star-studded shows for audiences around the globe. For example, Time Inc. unveiled a baker’s dozen new initiatives. Group Nine also introduced a baker’s dozen new programs. And YouTube announced seven new ad-supported shows: “Ellen’s Show Me More Show” starring Ellen DeGeneres, “Good Mythical Morning” starring Rhett and Link, “What the Fit?” starring Kevin Hart, “I Am” starring Demi Lovato, “Best.Cover.Ever.” starring Ludacris, “The Super Slow Show” starring The Slow Mo Guys, and “Katy Perry Live Special” starring Katy Perry. So, brands and media buyers can select from more new digital video content than you can shake a stick at.

#2 Johnson & Johnson declares victory and is advertising on YouTube again. Back in March, I wrote a memo to Johnson & Johnson and other big brands that were boycotting YouTube. After Philipp Schindler, Google’s Chief Business Officer, apologized and announced that Google was conducting “an extensive review of our advertising policies and tools,” I suggested that these big brands adopt the “Aiken formula” for ending the Vietnam War: “Declare victory and bring the troops home.” Well, during its Brandcast event, YouTube announced that Johnson & Johnson Consumer Brands will be the exclusive sponsor of “Best.Cover.Ever.” The big brand is also making a major investment in YouTube creators through Google Preferred. So, it looks like Johnson & Johnson has declared victory and is advertising on YouTube again.

#3 The reports of Twitter’s death are greatly exaggerated. Twitter unveiled a dozen new premium live streaming video content deals across news, sports, and entertainment at its first-ever Digital Content NewFronts presentation. I covered the joint announcement with Bloomberg Media, but deals were also announced with BuzzFeed News, the WNBA, MLBAM, the PGA TOUR, Live Nation, and half a dozen others. Twitter COO Anthony Noto said, “Last quarter, we streamed over 800 hours of live premium content from leading brands across sports, esports, news, and entertainment.” The new collaborations will bring hundreds of hours of new exclusive live original programming, live games and events, live syndications, extensions of existing live deals, and new always-on live streaming premium content to the platform. So, the reports of Twitter’s death are greatly exaggerated.

#4 Who are those guys? I mentioned that Group Nine Media introduced a baker’s dozen new programs. Who are those guys? Well, it is a family of digital media brands (NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker, and Thrillist) built for the mobile, social, and video-first world. Their videos got 3.3 billion (with a “b”) views in April 2017. That puts the media and entertainment property that many video marketers have never heard of ahead of Comcast, which ranked #9 with just under 3 billion views. And if you rank the top media and entertainment properties by engagements, then Group Nine ranked #1 in April with 96 million social actions. That puts the privately held company created in October 2016 ahead of the Walt Disney Company, which ranked #2. So, Group Nine isn’t a household name – yet – but it is scaling up at a breakneck pace.

#5 When they say “brand safe environment” they really mean “unlike YouTube.” Several media powerhouses, including The New York Times, emphasized that they offered advertisers a “brand safe environment.” Using the slogan, “Truth + Dare” (that’s Truth and Dare, not Truth or Dare), The Times showcased its content creators – who are still called journalists – and let them tell their stories about the many ways they work to find the “truth” – from the front lines of the war on terror to the inner workings of investigating the world’s most powerful governments. The Times was hoping that brands and media buyers will “dare” to stand with that expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness when they think about the best ways to tell their own stories. In other words, when they said “brand safe environment” they really meant “unlike YouTube.”

#6 When they say “fake news” they really mean is “Facebook.” Several traditional media companies, including Time Inc. and BBC.com, talked about what they were doing to combat “fake news.” Using the slogan, “Get real,” Time Inc. asserted that its properties could be trusted amid the furor over fake news in social media. BBC.com said that it was combating fake news with “slow news,” which means more in depth analysis of topics, putting events into context, as well as providing audiences with the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind the news headlines. In other words, when they said “fake news” they really meant “Facebook,” which wasn’t a presenter at the 2017 Digital Content NewFronts.

#7 Why hasn’t Facebook ever been a presenter at the Digital Content NewFronts? According to the fourth annual “Digital Content NewFronts: Video Ad Spend Study,” advertiser investment in original digital video programming has nearly doubled over the past two years with 80% of brand and agency executives are planning to spend even more on original digital video this year. Confirming the role that the Digital Content NewFronts plays in media buying decisions, 88 percent of advertisers said that they increased their original digital video budget as a result of attending the 2016 NewFronts. And 77 percent agreed that the 2016 NewFronts encouraged them to investigate ways to incorporate VR or 360-degree video advertising into their marketing strategy. So, why hasn’t Facebook ever been a presenter at the Digital Content NewFronts?

#8 Streaming enabled TVs have changed the way Americans watch television. During the IAB NewFronts Insights Luncheon (which I attended), the organization released “The Changing TV Experience: 2017,” a comprehensive study revealing that 56 percent of U.S. adults own a Streaming Enabled TV. Among these adults, watching digital video on Streaming Enabled TVs became an entrenched habit in 2017, with 46 percent saying they do so daily. This is a significant increase from 32 percent in 2015 (and the highest daily usage among all digital screens over this same time). Chris Kuist, the Senior Vice President of Research and Impact at the IAB, told luncheon attendees, “Streaming Enabled TVs have changed the way Americans watch television.”

#9 They are world famous on YouTube. Both traditional celebs and “internet-famous” YouTube creators are gaining fans on multiple platforms. The best example of this was Casey Neistat, who teased his CNN project at the Turner event (wearing a t-shirt) the same day he appeared at the YouTube Brandcast event (wearing a suit). But, he wasn’t the only cross-platform celebrity who was featured at one of the #NewFronts2017 events. Ellen DeGeneres, who has hosted her syndicated TV talk show since 2003, also turned up a Brandcast, while the design guru team known as Mr. Kate, which has 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube, announced a new show called Office Goals on the Entrepreneur Network. What do they have in common? They are world famous on YouTube.

#10 Media buyers are alive and well and living in New York. Back in April, I hypothesized that the vast majority of human media buyers who once decided where to place ads on YouTube may have already been replaced by programmatic buying. Boy, was I wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. At #NewFronts2017 events, I talked with lots of media buyers. And I learned why programmatic buying hadn’t decimated their jobs. Although agency executives had expected programmatic buying to reduce their headcount and costs, that hasn’t happened – because there are 97 different flavors of ad-tech and agencies still need people who know how to use duct tape and bailing wire to place video ads. So, that’s why media buyers are alive and well and living in New York.

In addition to discovering that one of my was assumptions going into #NewFronts2017 was wrong , I also didn’t attend more than two-thirds of the presentations held in New York City the first two weeks of May. So, this article doesn’t pretend to be a complete description of the topic. However, if you want something more comprehensive, then read and analyze “2017 Digital Content NewFronts in the News.” It is IAB’s curated list of 629 articles about the 34 presentations made during the 10-day marketplace. (You’ll discover that nine of them were written by me for Tubular Insights.) Or, check out the 59 video interviews conducted by Beet.TV for the IAB. You can find them at “2017 Digital Content NewFronts Video Highlights.”


Five Key Takeaways From Our LeEco Le 1s Review

Five Key Takeaways From Our LeEco Le 1s Review

LeEco’s budget Le 1s smartphone has received tremendous response from consumers in India, according to the company. The first flash sale of the LeEco Le 1s last week saw 70,000 units going out of stock in just 2 seconds, and the claims for the second flash sale were equally impressive.

The Le 1s packs a fingerprint scanner, full-HD display, and an all metal body that will keep feature-obsessed consumers happy. To recall, the Le 1s comes to India carrying a price tag of Rs. 10,999. If you are thinking of buying the smartphone, here are five takeaways from our LeEco Le 1s review to help you decide.

1) Good build quality
The Le 1s is made almost entirely of metal, save for two plastic strips running along the top and bottom of the rear for the various antennas to work. The front face is pretty slick, with black glass surrounding the screen and extending all the way to the two sides. The Chinese company at the India launch had stressed that the Le 1s is the first phone featuring a silver mirror-finished fingerprint sensor lower down and in the middle on the back panel.

(Also see: Le 1s full specifications)

2) USB Type-C and quick charging
LeEco (the company formerly known as LeTV) was one of the first companies that launchedsmartphones with USB Type-C ports last year. Type-C has been undoubtedly been displacing Micro-USB this year but LeEco is still ahead of the curve here.

The company ships a non-standard USB cable with a modified type-A plug on the charger end. It works like any other USB cable, except that you don’t have to worry about which way is up. In order to achieve this, the plug’s inner tongue has been made really thin, and we hope it won’t snap. During our review, we found out that the Le 1s quick charging feature saved the day – the device comes with a really bulky charger, but it paid off when we were able to boost up to a double-digit battery percentage in just a few minutes. To recall, the smartphone sports a 3000mAh battery.

3) The software needs some work
One of the biggest surprises during our review was the Le 1s’s software shortcomings. It runs the dated Android 5.0.2 with LeEco’s heavy eUI skin. The company skin dispenses with the app drawer, much like other phones from Chinese handset brands, and there weren’t as many customisation options.

The most difficult thing to get used to was that all shortcuts and quick settings were moved to the app switcher screen. It looks like a mashup of iOS 7’s Control Centre and app switcher and is functional enough, but it seems as though LeEco wanted to be different just for the sake of being different.

There were not many preloaded apps – Yahoo Weather, and an app called My LeTV which is a gateway to the company’s cloud storage and security services. The phone was also surprisingly sparse when it came to settings and enhancements. Overall, the software experience was a bit of a let-down, making the whole experience felt unpolished.

(Also see: Le 1s Sale: What You Need to Know)

le_1s_rear_gadgets360.jpg4) Impressive performance
During our detailed review, we liked using the Le 1s for the most part, and it did feel good in the hands as well. We were happy to note that the phone didn’t get too hot in use, even after gaming and running stress tests. Only a bit of warmth could be felt towards the top of the rear. We were pleasantly surprised by the phone’s speaker, which pumped out pretty loud and rich sound.

5) Average camera
The camera on the Le 1s is pretty average in terms of performance. In our review, we saw primary camera struggled a bit with detailing and exposure. It however managed to pull off quite a few good shots including close-ups which were the best, though there was still noise and murkiness to natural textures. Low-light shots looked impressive at first but were completely unusable if enlarged to actual size. You’ll be fine if you only want to share photos on social media, but not for anything beyond that. Videos were also adequate for a phone that costs this much.