New conservative groups take aim at education in Hamilton County ahead of budget season, elections

Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Doug Daugherty, president of Hamilton Flourishing, introduces Stuart and Tamarah Goggans during an event at the Chattanooga Public Library Tuesday, August 20, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The event was part of Hamilton Flourishing's monthly educational event series.

Two new conservative organizations have joined the conversation around politics and policy in Hamilton County - and they're taking a hard look at education.

Organizers for the Good Government Coalition and its newly formed political action committee and Hamilton Flourishing say they formed in response to UnifiEd - an education advocacy organization - and efforts last year to increase property tax rates for public education.

UnifiEd, which launched in 2014 with the backing of the Benwood, Footprint and Maclellan foundations, has been an active player in Hamilton County politics and education efforts.

Over the years, it has hosted community meetings and school board debates, conducted research, created the Pact for Public Education and the sometimes controversial Action Plan for Educational Excellence (APEX) report, and formed its own PAC to endorse candidates.

Though UnifiEd has never identified itself as a partisan organization, it has worked to elect Democratic candidates to the Hamilton County Commission and the school board.