Gresham announces she won’t run for re-election to state Senate

State Sen. Dolores Gresham has announced she won’t seek another term in the Tennessee Senate this year. The Somerville Republican is the chair of the Senate Education Committee and a longtime champion of school vouchers.

Here’s the full release from Gresham:

NASHVILLE – Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) announced today that she will not be a candidate for re-election in 2020.  Gresham made the announcement in an email to constituents in Chester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, McNairy and Henderson Counties in the 26th senatorial district.

“It has been the honor of my life, surpassed only by my service in the U.S. Marine Corps, to serve the people of Tennessee, especially children,” said Sen. Gresham. “I am very thankful for the support, friendship, and kindness of my constituents who have entrusted me to represent them for the past 18 years.”

Gresham served six years in the House of Representatives before being elected in 2008 to three consecutive terms in the Tennessee Senate.  She was appointed chairman of the Senate Education Committee as a freshman senator, presiding over the committee during a time of tremendous student progress at the K-12 level.  Her tenure as chairman also saw unprecedented growth in access to post-secondary education at Tennessee’s colleges and universities.

“There will be no weaning process,” Gresham said after announcing her retirement.  “I will continue to fulfill my promise to constituents to serve them to the fullest as their senator until my successor is elected in November.” 

Gresham is carrying several key bills this year.  This includes legislation proposed by Governor Bill Lee to ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected and a comprehensive bill to increase literacy in the early grades.  During her tenure, Gresham sponsored major school choice legislation establishing Individual Education Accounts (IEA) to provide pathways to customized education for students with special needs, and Education Savings Accounts (ESA) to give low-income children an opportunity to receive a quality education.  She also initiated a series of bills in 2018 to address sexual misconduct by teachers to ensure children are safe in the classroom.

“This is not a retreat,” the former Lt. Colonel said as she pledged to continue to work to improve education in Tennessee.  “In the words of General Chesty Puller, “I’m attacking in a different direction.”   Puller, who was a distinguished U.S. Marine Corps officer, was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.

Gresham has served as Chairman of the Education Committee for the State Council of State Government’s Southern Legislative Conference.  She also served as Vice Chairman of the Education Commission of the States.  

In other leadership roles, Gresham has been a champion of Tennessee farmers and advancing agriculture in Tennessee. She and her husband, Will, live on their cattle farm in Fayette County.

Lt. Governor Randy McNally said, “Dolores Gresham has devoted her life to serving others. She served all Americans with great distinction in the United States Marine Corps and every Tennessee citizen as a member of the Tennessee House and Senate. Her determined passion for education led her to oversee one of the most improved periods in education in Tennessee history as chairman. She has been a strong conservative voice and a fierce advocate for her constituents. Her departure will certainly leave a void. I am grateful for her friendship and plan to continue soliciting her wise counsel. She will be greatly missed as a member of the Senate.”

Senate Republican Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) said, “Both in service to our county and our state, Senator Gresham exemplifies the Semper Fi motto of the U.S. Marines as ‘always faithful.’   She has been a tremendous advocate for students and her contributions to excellence in education will be felt for many years to come.    We will miss her terribly, but wish her well as she starts this next chapter.”

Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston) said, “Sen. Gresham and I were elected to the Senate at the same time and I am very grateful for her sterling service in the legislature, especially as Chairman of the Education Committee.  Few people have positively influenced education more than Chairman Gresham, always putting students first.  I wish her and Will the best life has to offer.”

21 Responses to Gresham announces she won’t run for re-election to state Senate

  • Avatar
    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    There have been a number of retirements during this cycle for which conservatives can only be thankful (e.g. Alexander-Heritage-51%, Roe-Heritage 70%) but this is not one of them. Dolores Gresham (ACU-88%) has been at the forefront of attempts to break the sclerotic monopoly of the Government School Trust and she will be sorely missed. We can only hope that the voters of the 26th District send another like her to the State Senate.

  • Avatar
    Karen Bracken says:

    She should have left years ago. Gresham and several other long timers on the education committees need to retire as well. They are totally out of touch and do what the campaign donors tell them to do.

    • Avatar
      James White says:

      She is my State Senator, I agree with Karen.

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        That surprises me James, I would have guessed that her efforts to break the Government School Trust monopoly would garner your support. Has your opposition to elected officeholders become reflexive?

        • Avatar
          James White says:

          “Her tenure as chairman also saw unprecedented growth in access to post-secondary education at Tennessee’s colleges and universities.”
          More government is NOT the answer.
          It is just more of the same. More Federal and State control, she has not stopped that.
          We do NOT have Phonics Only yet Federal Money is going to insure Federal control and the latest federal programs … no child left behind/common core… what ever nest.
          Oh and last but not LEAST, she voted FOR an ARTICLE V CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.

  • Avatar
    LeeAnn C. says:

    I have the greatest respect for Senator Gresham. She is a voice of reason that will be very difficult to replace!

  • Avatar
    Martin S. Harris jr. says:

    The need for vouchers was neatly (and inadvertently) shown by the line in the departure article above which describes “tremendous K-12 progress” in State schools. What progress? Reading and Math student achievement test scores have been almost equally dismal for the last nearly 40 years, ever since the first Federal NAEP testing was started, with almost all grades showing below 50% Proficiency in R and M, the foundation purpose of the public K-12 system. The underlying “inconvenient fact” in the voucher dispute was the years-ago statement of teachers’ union leader Shanker that “when student pay union dues” is when he’ll be concerned about the “benefits to students”.

  • Avatar
    Martin S. Harris jr. says:

    The need for vouchers was neatly (and inadvertently shown by the line in the departure article above, which describes “tremendous K-12 progress” in State schools. What progress? Reading and Math student achievement scores have been almost uniformly dismal for the last 40-plus years, ever since the first Federal NAEP testing was started, with almost all grades showing below 50% Proficiency in R and M, the foundation purpose of the public K-12 system. The underlying “inconvenient fact” was and is the years-ago statement of teachers’ union leader Shanker, that “when students pay union dues” will be when he’ll be concerned about the “interests of students”

  • Avatar
    Leslie Parsley says:

    I wonder how long it will take to repair all the damage.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      The damage won’t begin to be repaired until the voting public loses its enthrall with government schools, on the romantic notion of government schools as this great instrument of democratization and leveling when, in fact government schools work no better than the government post office, government motor vehicle dept, etc. and should not logically be subject to any more emotional attachment.
      Government is simply no place from which to run anything if there is a private enterprise alternative that is subject to the discipline of the market place if efficiency rather than “job security” is the goal.

      • Avatar
        Eddie White says:

        Stuart, did you go to a government school? Did your children?

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          I did indeed many years ago in a very liberal community before the incubus of political correctness afflicted this country and all institutions in this country including its schools. Coming as I did from a lower middle class family that was burdened with taxes that came with living in a very liberal community, a portion of which was confiscated to support the government schools, which made going to a private school financially out of the question. If, however, my parents had been given a voucher by the government for my education that could be spent anywhere my parents chose, I might have gone to a private school and turned out even more conservative than I am now.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Stuart,

        “enthrall” …..it’s not a noun.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Yea, I noticed that after I hit “Post Comment.” Did you know the The Telegram of the UK has a comment facility that allows one to get back into one’s post and make corrections after the post is posted? You can also use italics, underline, and do a lot of really neat things.

          I am sure the readership of The Tennessee Journal has gone up leaps and bounds thanks to the erudite chit-chat found in the Response section of this blog which has resulted in it pulling down the big bucks so it can spend a few of those bucks to upgrade this site to enable commentators to make corrections after their comment is posted.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            That’s “The Telegraph” not “Telegram.”

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            You put it in there as a noun. Not a typo. It’s not even a word that could ever BE a noun. I’m going to start calling you Uncle Joe.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Yes, I MADE A MISTAKE. I’m going to start calling you “Aunt Prig” if you keep it up.

  • Avatar
    Misty Pardner says:

    Paging Ron Gant.

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