Tennessee State Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), who also chairs the state Senate’s Education Committee, said she will not seek reelection this year, according to a press release Gresham put out Thursday.
Gresham emailed her constituents with the news. Those constituents live 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,” Gresham said. “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 state House of Representatives before voters elected her, starting in 2008, to three consecutive terms in the Tennessee Senate. She chaired the Senate Education Committee as a freshman senator.
“There will be no weaning process,” Gresham said in the press release. “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 carried several key bills this year. This includes legislation that Republican Gov. Bill Lee proposed 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 to give low-income children an opportunity to receive a quality education,” according to Gresham’s press release. “She also initiated a series of bills in 2018 to address sexual misconduct by teachers to ensure children are safe in the classroom.”
Gresham has also 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.
As The Tennessee Star reported last year, Gresham requested and received a report that explored how ineffective teachers affect students in Tennessee’s public schools for two consecutive years.
“More than 8,000 Tennessee students (1.6 percent of students included in the study) had a teacher with low evaluation scores in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years in math, English, or both subjects,” according to Tennessee Comptrollers, who presented the report.
“Students were less likely than their peers to be proficient or advanced on the state’s assessments when they were taught by ineffective teachers in consecutive years. Student achievement also suffered with the largest effects found for the highest and lowest performing students. These results are consistent with other research indicating that ineffective teachers have negative academic impacts on students.”
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