Civic Equity for Students with Disabilities

The  Illinois Democracy Schools Network continues its 2022-23 C.L.A.D. (Civic Learning Across Disciplines) webinar series focusing on Student Voice.  In the second session, Dr. Leah Bueso,  a postdoctoral student at the Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) at the University of California, Riverside. explored the access of students with disabilities to civic education.

Dr. Bueso began the presentation by pointing out that this intersection of civic engagement and students with disabilities is an understudied field.  Although there have been many equity initiatives over the past several years, they have not really addressed students with disabilities and how they participate in the civic mission of the school.  And, as Dr. Bueso emphasizes, this role of the school–equipping students with what they need to be active, engaged citizens–is critical.  Adolescents who embrace civic commitments have a much higher probability of becoming adults engaged in their communities.  Yet, the current state of our schools seems to reveal that access to these types of civic learning experiences for students with disabilities is hindered in many ways. In fact– in terms of service learning experiences– there is evidence that suggests that students with disabilities are often the recipients of these services rather than the providers.  

The first large-scale study on access to civic education by students with disabilities was conducted recently.  And it was determined that (with this group), students with disabilities were less likely to engage in discussions of current and controversial issues; they were more likely to be involved in service projects and volunteerism.  In terms of media literacy, students with disabilities were more likely to create and share items on social media but less likely to know strategies to determine whether the information is reliable or not.  

If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, please check out Dr. Leah Bueso’s publications here.

If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording on the Illinois Democracy Schools Network Webinar archive.

The Illinois Civics Hub and the Illinois Democracy Schools Network are hosting free after-school PD this year from our expert civic partners. A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits through the DuPage Regional Office of Education is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development Calendar. 

The Illinois Civics Hub also has a newsletter that shares our free PD that is open to all. You can subscribe here!