Comparing Ireland to Washington State

I have been enjoying learning a lot about Ireland’s history and culture over the past couple of days. It is amazing to see buildings that were constructed so many years ago. For example, this morning we visited Kilmainham Gaol. This is a prison that was built in 1796 and used for over 100 years before the infamous housing and execution of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Comparing this to Washington State, around this time, British Captain Vancouver discovered the Puget Sound and mapped the Washington coast. I am pretty sure that there were no buildings then that are still around now.

This got me thinking about how the country of Ireland compares to the state of Washington in K-12 education. Here is some data that I have been able to put together:

Ireland Washington State
Population 4.5 million 7.1 million
K-12 students About 1 million About 1 million
Budget for education $10.2 billion (includes some post secondary funding) $13.2 billion (just for general education)
% of students who graduate 89% 78%
% of students who go to post-secondary schools 67% 61%

As I have the opportunity to meet education officials, school staff and leaders of education initiatives in Dublin and Belfast, over the next week, I wonder what other similarities and differences that I will find.

I suspect that they have the same challenges that we are faced with in K-12 education and I hope that I can get some ideas of how they are addressing these to bring back to Washington State. I am already getting great ideas and links to valuable resources from my fellow delegates and am so appreciative that CoSN has created this wonderful program.

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