By Oluwatomike Adeboyejo
For Del. Eric Luedtke (D-MD), students are his focus whether it is teaching them or helping to pass education legislation in the Maryland General Assembly.
“I ended up teaching in a community that had a lot of poverty,” Luedtke, 35, said. “The schools I taught at were 90 to 95 percent minority. A lot of students did not speak English that well. I learned a lot about inequality and injustice. That has been something that motivated me as a legislator.”
Luedtke’s latest legislative proposal was a controversial bill that limited the use of testing to determine how well public schools are doing. The bill specifically prohibits Gov. Hogan and the State Board of Education from taking certain actions against underperforming schools. The General Assembly voted to override Gov.Hogan’s veto of the Protect Our Schools Act of 2017 to a 90-50 vote in the House and a 32-15 vote in the Senate.
Luedtke is a man whose spark for education was ignited 13 years ago as a social studies teacher at A. Mario Loiderman Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland. It shaped how he viewed the challenges people from marginalized communities in America face.
“I’ve never been someone who is motivated by getting rich, that doesn’t interest me, but I really get a lot out of trying to make a difference,” Luedtke said. “I think that there is a lot of evil in the world and the only way you deal with it is by advocating for good.”
Luedtke is also notable for his role in passing the Maryland Dream Act, which permits undocumented immigrants who have attended Maryland high schools for at least three years and meet other criteria to be eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges. He was chosen by Del. Anne Kaiser (D- MD) to be rally support by gathering votes for the bill.
“Dreamers are kids, and in the anti-immigrant movement, there are a subset of people who felt like anyone who is undocumented should be treated like a criminal and booted from the country tomorrow. I can’t believe that about children,” Luedtke said. “I believe strongly that you do not publish children for the actions of their parents.”
Luedtke has been a part of the House of Delegates since Jan. 12, 2011. He currently resides on the Ways and Means Committee, Finance Resources Subcommittee and the Education Subcommittee. Luedtke, who is divorced and has one son, now teaches public policy to students at the University of Maryland, College Park, his alma mater.
Luedtke continues to follow his teaching aspirations as an instructor at the university. He currently teaches the class Leadership: Philosophy, Policy and Praxis. The class teaches students about policymaking and introduces them to different social justice topics.
“[Luedtke] has destroyed my preconceived notions on politics,” said Christopher Lodge, a junior elementary major and student of Luedtke. “I’ve learned how you can make a change when you see things are wrong. He went on from teaching in a classroom to becoming a politician and has made a change that way. It’s definitely a path I can see myself taking. I look up to him as an instructor, mentor and friend.”
Luedtke’s dedication to education allows him to look beyond trivial matters in politics and focus of issues that will have a massive impact of education reform in Maryland. He intends to continue to make a difference through policy in Annapolis by being re-elected in 2018.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Eric Luedtke’s Facebook page.
Oluwatomike Adeboyejo is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.