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Power, Language, & Inequity for Multilingual Learners: Will Maryland's Blueprint reduce inequality?

By: Sophia Rodriguez, University of Maryland, College Park

May 20, 2023 We are nearing the end of what has been a fun and productive first year of the blog. As the founder of ImmigrantEdNext Lab, I have been in awe of the many scholars engaging in important work to serve minoritized populations. I will do a recap of the year in the next few weeks. A huge thank you for now! In this week's blog, we highlight the excellent work of University of Maryland PhD students, Lisa Lopez-Escobar and Staci Pippin-Kottkamp. They have created an important podcast and engaged in a critical discourse analysis of policies impacting multilingual learners in the state of Maryland. This podcast was part of my Critical Policy Analysis of Urban Education course this semester.

Pippin-Kottkamp provides a brief overview of the The Blueprint for Maryland’s future. She explains that it has five pillars. These include:

Pillar 1: Early Childhood Education;

Pillar 2: High Quality and Diverse Teachers and Leaders:

Pillar 3: College and Career Readiness;

Pillar 4: More Resources for Students to Be Successful;

Pillar 5: Governance and Accountability;

Improved and equitable services for multilingual learners falls within Pillar 4. The Blueprint highlights that "the success of English learners will determine Maryland’s future success.” Lopez-Escobar explained: "The number of non-native English speaking students in schools has been increasing dramatically across the country and Maryland is no exception. In 2014 the state reported about 56,000 English learners enrolled in grades K-12. Now, in 2023, that number is close to 106,000. That’s an estimated growth rate of 7.4% each year. And while the largest increases have been seen in metropolitan areas like Montgomery and Prince George’s county, numbers are growing in rural districts as well. While Montgomery county boasts of a 91% graduation rate, that number hovers around 64% for multilingual learners." This graduation rate difference suggests that this population may not receiving equitable educational resources and access to quality curriculum and instruction.

The podcast highlights the possibility for asset-based legislation to serve immigrant students. Lopez-Escobar and Pippin-Kottkamp center the voices of underrepresented parents in the podcast and their responses to legislation.

However, Lopez-Escobar notes: "We hear a lot about the intent of the bill being to celebrate the diversity and culture in Maryland; it’s still creating this narrative that language is the main issue, and if we get these students to speak English, then they will be able to succeed academically. Which from the words we heard from parents, students and instructors, is clearly not the case." Parents comment on the lack of accountability and opportunities for dual language programs and improving hiring practices for bilingual teachers. While the state recommended a few of these items, more work is needed to address parent concerns.

Pippin-Kottkamp argues that parents and students have not been given space to fully exercise their power in the consideration and implementation of what policies would improve the learning experiences of multilingual learners. She calls for more opportunities to parents and students to voice their ideas and actually see them realized in the policy implementation process. It seems that the Blueprint has promise, but we will keep our critical policy perspectives on it.

To listen to the full podcast, click here:

Resources for Further Reading:

Ball, S. J. (1993). What is policy? Texts, trajectories and toolboxes. The Australian Journal of

Education Studies, 13(2), 10-17.

Gulson, K., Clarke, M., & Petersen, E. B. (2015). Education policy and contemporary theory. Abingdon: Routledge.

Wodak, R., & Meyer, M. (2009). Critical discourse analysis: History, agenda, theory and

methodology. Methods of critical discourse analysis, 2, 1-33.

We welcome additional comments and reflections, please email us at: or through the Immigrant Ed Next website.

Be sure to follow us or tweet about #ImmigrantEdNext

Suggested Citation: Rodriguez, S. (2023, May 20). Power, Language, & Inequity for Multilingual Learners: Will Maryland's Blueprint reduce inequality? Immigrant Ed Next.

Copyright © 2022: Sophia Rodriguez, Immigrant Ed Next-All Rights Reserved

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