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Equity in Civic Technology, Privacy & Data

Brief: Teachers and Parents of Students with Disabilities Leading Community Engagement Practices

Robust community engagement is an important step in school technology decision-making. As CDT has previously discussed, these practices help ensure that new technologies meet the needs of all students, while protecting their privacy and keeping them safe online. Yet many K-12 parents feel left out of the loop in school technology decisions, and less than half report that their school has actually asked for their input on how it should be using technology. The need for improved tech-related community engagement is critical.

Despite these shortcomings, one group within school communities stands out for its positive community engagement practices: teachers and parents of students with disabilities. CDT’s recent survey research shows that these teachers and parents are doing more and better community engagement than their peers on several key metrics. Unsurprisingly, these groups also report feeling better equipped to navigate data and privacy decisions, reinforcing the idea that strong community engagement promotes safer and smarter technology use. 

These findings build on previous CDT research, which found that teachers of students with disabilities demonstrate particularly high familiarity with privacy protection principles and other aspects of responsible technology use. These encouraging trends suggest that broader school communities stand to benefit by learning lessons from the successes of individuals who support students with disabilities.

Below, this brief examines the positive community engagement practices demonstrated by teachers and parents of students with disabilities, and discusses how these practices can serve as a model for other members of the education community.

Read the full research brief here.