Deb Palmer
Equity, Bilingualism & Biliteracy • BUENO Center

Fleming Building, Room 300G
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 bilingual 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. My 2018 book, “Bilingual Teacher Leadership for Social Change” published by Multilingual Matters, explores and defines teacher agency, activism and leadership for bilingual educators, 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. Among other projects, I am currently leading a team of colleagues on a book for Lexington Books tentatively titled, "Gentrification and bilingual education: A Texas TWBE school across seven years.” With another team of colleagues, I am editing a volume under contract with Routledge titled "Activating Critical Consciousness in Dual Language Bilingual Education (From Policy to Pedagogy)."

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) (1996) 

California Multiple Subject K-12 Teaching Credential (1992) Mills College, Oakland CA. (renewed to 2023)

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

Full CV


Dorner, L., Palmer, D., Cervantes-Soon, C., Crawford, E. & *Heiman, D. (2023) Critical Consciousness in Dual Language Bilingual Education: Case Studies on Policy and Practice. Routledge.

Palmer, D. & *García-Mateus, S. (2023) Gentrification and bilingual education: A Texas TWBE school across seven years. Lexington Books.

Henderson, K. & Palmer, D. (2020) Dual language bilingual education: Teacher cases and perspectives on large-scale implementation. Multilingual Matters.

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


*Harvey-Torres, R., Palmer, D. & *Degollado, E.D. (2022) Three worlds pitfall? A transfronteriza Latina bilingual teacher navigating home, school, and university divides. Teaching and Teacher Education. 116.

*Hurie, A. & Palmer, D. (2022) Selling English-Medium Schooling in Multilingual Communities: A Typology of Choice Schools’ Marketing Strategies on the Near South Side of Milwaukee. Education Policy Analysis Archives. 30, (28). 

*García-Mateus, S., *Henderson, K, *Téllez-Arsté, M. & Palmer, D. (2021) An experienced bilingual Latina teacher and pre-K Latinx students in the borderlands: Translanguaging as humanizing pedagogy. In: M. Sánchez & O. García, Eds. Transformative translanguaging espacios in bilingual education: U.S. Latinx bilingual children rompiendo fronteras, (pp.156-179) Multilingual Matters.

Palmer, D. (2019) “You’re not a Spanish speaker!/We are all bilingual” The purple kids on being and becoming bilingual in a dual language kindergarten classroom. In: Faltis, C. & MacSwan, J. Eds. Code-Switching in the Classroom:  A Multilingual Perspective on Language and Language Practices. Routledge, pp.247-267.

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.


Caldas, B., Rubio, B., Heiman, D., Palmer, D. & Martínez, M. (2021) Cultivating bilingual education leaders: Tensions, successes and lessons learned at graduate school level. Webinar, B-MEIS, TESOL International, February 10, 2021.

Palmer, D. & McGrath, A. (2021) Language, Leadership and BIPOC Students. Podcast, Center for Leadership’s Leadership Frontiers Podcast Series, University of Colorado Boulder,

Henderson, K.I., Ortega, E. & Palmer, D. (2021). “I’m kind of a rebel here”: Documenting the greatest challenges of bilingual teachers during a pandemic. Multilingual Educator, Spring 2021, (pp.86-88). 

Palmer, D. (2021) Teaching for equity in two-way dual language education: The hidden curriculum behind what we teach and how we teach. Multilingual Educator, Spring 2021, (pp.107-110) 

Heiman, D., Cervantes-Soon, C., Dorner, L. & Palmer, D. (November 8, 2020) Critical consciousness at the core: Ensuring equity for transnational emerging bilinguals in US language education programs. Webinar, Center for Transnational & Multilingual Education, Georgia State University, November 8, 2020. 

Wagstaffe, J.P. & Palmer, D. (2019). Do middle-class native English-speaking children dominate bilingual programs in America?. OASIS Summary of Palmer, D. (2009) in TESOL Quarterly 

*Fine, C., Palmer, D., & *Strong, K.A. (2019) The impact of language ideologies in schools. Educational Leadership, Dec/Jan, 77(4), 58-65 

Developing Critical Consciousness through Dialogue with our Neighbors:  University Hill Elementary and CU Boulder SOE Partnership for Equity

The purpose of the School of Education/University Hill Elementary partnership is to support equitable educational engagements by developing and nurturing spaces for critical inquiry and dialogue that center the needs, identities, and experiences of racially and linguistically marginalized students. A collaborative project with Dr. Andrea Dyrness (EFPP) and Dr. Enrique Sepúlveda (Ethnic Studies) and the leadership at UHE, this project involves UHE students and teachers, and CU Boulder undergraduate and graduate students. 

At the heart of the partnership is a unique cultural mentoring program that brings together underrepresented students at CU who are Education and Ethnic Studies majors with predominantly Latinx 5th graders at Uni Hill. Through a weekly after-school program led by the CU Boulder students, we aim to: 1) build community among Uni Hill students and underrepresented students at CU and promote a sense of belonging to CU and the Boulder community, 2) To reflect on and strengthen cultural identity, and 3) To explore issues of common concern in our communities and cultural resources for education, or community cultural wealth (Yosso 2005). It is our hope that through this new community, both groups of students will see their identities and experiences as resources for their education, and Uni Hill students will begin to see higher education as not only possible but meaningful for them and their communities, while CU students will see community engagement as a way to enhance their own educational experience. Additionally, through research partnerships with fifth grade teachers and professional development for the entire faculty of Uni Hill, we aim to support teachers to leverage their students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds as resources for teaching and learning in dual language bilingual classrooms.

This project began with an SOE-Partnership SEED Grant in 2019. 

Cultivating Leaders: Pathways to Transformation, Strength, Confidence, and Leadership for First-Generation BIPOC Students in College.

(Co-PI: Dr. Johanna Maes, Multicultural Leadership Scholars, SOE; Researcher: Alexandra McGrath, Doctoral Student, EBB). Funded by a School of Education WISE Grant, this qualitative ethnographic case study research project is seeking to explore, understand and support the Multicultural Leadership Scholars (MLS), a long-established leadership-centered initiative for undergraduate first-generation students and students of color at the University of Colorado Boulder. As the university and the School of Education pledge our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, this project aims to center the experiences of underrepresented students as they come to and move through a predominantly white institution, to understand the programs that support these students’ growth and persistence towards graduation, and to explore the process of activist and leadership identity construction during their undergraduate years and beyond.

Building Raciolinguistic Justice in Midwestern Dual Language Programs, 1/2022-12/2022:

Funded by a Spencer Foundation Conference Grant, this project is a collaboration with a team of researchers and practitioners in dual language bilingual education across six midwestern states with the primary purpose to develop raciolinguistic justice in Midwestern DLBE programs. Central to this work is the development of critical consciousness (Palmer, et al., 2019). Therefore we are planning a series of virtual convenings co-led by practitioners, which will inform an in-person conference with data analysis and conversations co-facilitated by researchers and interactive workshops that link research to practice. Three objectives support our primary purpose: (1) document and more deeply understand issues of raciolinguistic equity and critical consciousness in DLBE; (2) design new research-practice partnerships and agendas; and (3) foster an anti-racist community of practice and Midwestern DLBE network.

Bilingual educators’ testimonios: Resistencia, sobrevivencia y sabiduría during COVID-19 :

(Co-PI: Dr. Katherine Espinoza, Texas A&M University San Antonio; proposal under review with Spencer Foundation). With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, bilingual educators’ professional lives were disrupted. Quickly immersing themselves in virtual teaching while reaching out to families in crisis to ensure children’s continued access to education, they rose to the challenge. This critical qualitative study will gather and learn from 40+ bilingual teachers’ testimonios of sobrevivencia/survival and resistencia/resistance as they navigated through teaching their Latinx bilingual (often immigrant) students in unprecedented times. Tesimonio as a methodology invites individuals to share counter narratives of their lived experience for collective healing and building new knowledge. We’ll explore the potential of virtual conference tools like zoom to provide a space for convivios/group gatherings for sharing testimonios. Narratives of bilingual educators’ creativity and tenacity will inform the field about the impacts of COVID disruption upon their professional lives and identities. We will answer the research question: What do bilingual teachers’ testimonios reveal about their work and related identity formation as they learn, teach, and advocate on behalf of bilingual families in the COVID-19 pandemic? We hope to inform bilingual teacher preparation and policy for building effective network of support for bilingual students, during and beyond crises.

Recent Courses Taught:

2625/5625 Methods of Teaching English as a Second Language
4425 Introduction to Bilingual/Multicultural Education
5605 Research Issues in Bilingual Education
5615 Second Language Acquisition
5425 Introduction to Bilingual/Multicultural Education

8730 Advanced Qualitative Methods: Critical Discourse Analysis
8014 Seminar on Democracy, Diversity and Justice in Education: Latinos in Education