Does Money Matter? (Part 1)

This is a tough time for school districts. There's not enough money. Charters, too. Our funding is pegged to districts. If their revenue is cut by 2%, for example, so is ours. Does the deficit matter? Do well-funded schools, on average, help kids? Make them smarter or happier?

Notice I say "schools" plural. We try hard to fundraise for our particular school. I don't want to step on my argument when I question whether traditional schools generally deliver a better result with more money.

Does money matter in pro sports? Does high payroll in baseball, football, basketball seem to lead to winning? Guess before you read more.

Turns out, it depends on the sport.

TeachingFTW took Orin and me to the Sox-Yanks game on Sunday night. Their $23 million per year pitcher facing off against our $17 million per year pitcher.

In baseball, the answer is generally, yes. Money matters. The Sox and Yanks are #1 and #2 in spending and #1 and #2 in wins for the past 10 years.

Pause. We love the Moneyball story. Or at least, I love the Moneyball story. A low-budget team, the A's, succeeds for years against the Goliaths, the well-funded teams. The A's were armed with nothing but better statistical analysis and a willingness to defy conventional wisdom. It seems to show that money doesn't matter as much as we think.

But the A's were an exception. Which, as we know, proves the rule. And get this: since the Moneyball was published, other teams learned their lesson. Now rivals examine the same stats. In the past 5 years, the A's advantage has dipped quite a bit. They're not really an outlier anymore.

Big Picture: money doesn't guarantee success in pro baseball, but it does increase the chances of winning.

Now, here's a hoot. Same question, different context. Does money buy success in pro football and pro basketball?

The answer is a resounding no. Very low correlation, as the study from the link shows.

For example, the Knicks are #1 in payroll, and yet lose more than any other team. The Spurs spent the least for the same 10 year period, yet won the most games.

So it boils down to this: Are K-12 schools more like baseball (money does matter) or football and basketball (money doesn't matter)?

And what about in Ed Schools? Do high-tuition private Ed Schools generate better teachers than cheaper state Ed Schools?

Tune in tomorrow.