Deb Palmer
Equity, Bilingualism & Biliteracy • BUENO Center

School of Education, Room 205
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

I am a Professor in the program in Equity, Bilingualism and Biliteracy in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. I was a two-way dual language teacher in Redwood City, CA prior to entering the Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley in Language, Literacy and Culture in Education in 1999. I conduct qualitative research using ethnographic and discourse analytic methods in culturally and linguistically diverse settings. My interests include bilingual education policy and politics; critical additive bilingual education; teacher preparation for linguistically and culturally diverse teaching contexts; language, power and identity; and bilingual teacher leadership/agency. I led study abroad programs for education students at the University of Texas at Austin to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 2007, and to Antigua, Guatemala in 2013 and 2015. I am currently working on a book for Multilingual Matters based on the experiences of master bilingual teachers in Proyecto Maestría, a National Professional Development Project that I directed in Austin Texas from 2007 to 2013. 

Soy Profesora del programa de Equidad, Bilingüismo y Bi-literacidad​ en la Facultad de Educación de la Universidad de Colorado Boulder. Anteriormente fui maestra de educación bilingüe de lenguaje dual en California, ahora llevo a cabo investigaciones cualitativas usando métodos de etnografía y análisis de discurso en contextos de diversidad lingüística. Mis intereses incluyen la educación bilingüe, el lenguaje dual, y la política y pedagogía de la enseñanza de estudiantes emergentes bilingües en escuelas públicas; la preparación de docentes para escuelas diversas; el lenguaje, el poder y la identidad; disposición y liderazgo de docentes bilingües.

Ph.D. (2004) Education in Language, Literacy and Culture, University of California, Berkeley, CA

M.A. (2000) Education in Language, Literacy and Culture, University of California, Berkeley, CA

Bilingual/Cross-cultural Language in Academic Development Supplement (BCLAD) (1995) 

California Multiple Subject K-12 Teaching Credential (1992) Mills College, Oakland CA. (renewed to 2018)

B.A. (1991) Anthropology with Humanities Honors, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Full CV

Palmer, D. (2018) Teacher leadership for social change in bilingual/bicultural education. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

*Wall, D., *Greer, E., & Palmer, D. (2019) Exploring institutional processes in a district-wide dual language program: Who is it for? Who is left out? Journal of Latinos in Education,

Palmer, D., Cervantes-Soon, C., Dorner, L., & *Heiman, D. (2019) Bilingualism, Biliteracy, Biculturalism… and Critical Consciousness for All: Proposing a Fourth Fundamental Principle for Two-Way Dual Language Education. Theory Into Practice, 58(2), 121-133.

*Henderson, K. & Palmer, D. (2019) “I wonder why they don’t do the two-way”: Disrupting the one-way/two-way dichotomy, re-envisioning the possibilities of dual language bilingual education. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 9(1),

Cervantes-Soon, C., Dorner, L., Palmer, D., Heiman, D., Schwerdtfeger, R., & Choi, J. (2017) Combating inequalities in two-way language immersion programs: Toward critical consciousness in bilingual education spaces. Review of Research in Education.

Palmer, D., Zuñiga, C. & Henderson, K. (2015) A dual language revolution in the United States? From compensatory to enrichment bilingual education in Texas. In: Wright, W., Boun, S., & Garcia, O. (Eds.) Handbook of Bilingual and Multilingual Education, Wiley-Blackwell.

Palmer, D.K. & Martínez, R.A. (2013) Teacher agency in bilingual spaces:  A fresh look at preparing teachers to educate Latino/a bilingual children. Review of Research in Education, 37(1), 269-297.

Palmer, D. (2010). Race, power, and equity in a multiethnic urban elementary school with a dual immersion “strand” program. Anthropology in Education Quarterly, 41(1), 94-114.

Palmer, D. (2009). Middle-class English speakers in a two-way immersion bilingual classroom: “Everybody should be listening to Jonathan right now…” TESOL Quarterly, 43(2), 177-202.

Proyecto Maestría Collaborative for Teacher (and Parent) Leadership, UT Austin

            Proyecto Maestría Collaborative for Teacher Leadership in Bilingual and ESL Education is a project that began in 2007 with a National Professional Development grant from the U.S. Dept of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition (Palmer & Ortíz, 2007-2013) and reflects a long standing partnership between UT Austin College of Education and Austin Independent School District. Its goals were to improve the quality and increase the quantity of highly skilled Bilingual and ESL teachers in the Austin metroplex, to promote teacher retention, and to improve the educational outcome for the region’s growing population of emergent bilinguals. A proposal for a follow-up project that would involve parents as leaders alongside teachers is currently under review in the Department of Education

            Many of the 53 teachers who earned their master’s degrees through the grant-supported Proyecto Maestría Special Cohort Master’s Program (2007-2013) agreed to participate in a related research project that investigated Teacher Leadership for Social Change in Bilingual/Bicultural Education. Through interviews, participant observation, and collection of artifacts, we explored the development of Leadership and Advocacy identities for bilingual education teachers. Related publications:

An Ethnography and Discourse Analysis of Policy Implementation – District-Wide Dual Language Bilingual Education – UT Austin

            This six-year project, now drawing to a close, explored the implications of a district-wide implementation of an enrichment-oriented dual language bilingual education program in a large urban school district in Texas. At different stages of the study, we carried out (selected publications represent each stage):

  • A multi-year schoolwide ethnography at one small elementary school:
  • A qualitative exploratory study of literacy development using critical multicultural children’s literature and process drama:
  • Case studies of third grade teams at two schools:
  • District-wide surveys and educator interviews:

Developing Critical Awareness and Translingual Identities: Texas Preservice Teachers in Antigua Guatemala, UT Austin.

            During the summers of 2013 and 2015 I led study-abroad programs to Antigua Guatemala, teaching two courses: Sociocultural Influences in Learning and Acquisition of Langauges and Literacies. In collaboration with my UT Colleague Dr. Luis Urrieta who also teaches the study-abroad courses in Antigua, and my colleague Dr. Julia Menard-Warwick, Linguistics, UC Davis, and a team of graduate student researchers (Dr. Eric Bybee, Enrique David Degollado, Shannon Kehoe), we collected a range of qualitative data during the 12-week summer program in 2015 and carried out follow-up interviews in the following year, exploring our undergraduate students’ development of critical awareness and translingual identities, with particular focus on the experiences of students of color. Data analysis is ongoing. Related publications:

EDUC 5605/5525: Research Issues in Bilingual Education, Masters.

The goal of this course is to support students to become critical consumers of education research in order to mobilize the tools of research to serve their needs as practitioners and the needs of the students and families they serve. The course offers students the opportunity to examine, critique, and evaluate current and ongoing research with particular focus in the field of bilingual education, from a wide range of research traditions or cultures of inquiry. We will look at the basic reasoning underlying research design and methodology and the connection between theory, methodology, and data/analysis. Course is designed to lead practicing teachers to begin to see themselves not merely as consumers but as potential producers of valuable knowledge.

EDUC 5602/5525 Syllabus

EDUC 8014: Seminar on Democracy, Diversity and Social Justice: Latinos in Education, Doctoral.

Currently Under Development. There will be critical readings across an array of issues: race, language, culture, gender., etc. that all will explore the Latinx community in the US (in all its broad diversity). Students will write a book review of a recent book in the area. As it fulfills the doctoral requirement for Democracy, Diversity and Social Justice, the course will be framed around a critical examination of societal inequities, and theoretical as well as practical efforts to counter/challenge white supremacy.