Hamiltonians versus Jeffersonians: The Fight for Governance of Our Schools



The HBO John Adams mini series  is a wonderful portrayal of the beginnings of our nation. The interest in our founding fathers has resulted in the publication of a number of fascinating books.


Hamilton  and Jefferson were bitter enemies throughout their lives, one an illegitimate poor child from the island of Nevis in the Caribbean, the other from an aristocratic Virginia family.


They only had two things in common: both married well and were involved in sexual escapades.


The “rough and tumble” of modern day politics is nothing new … Jefferson hired James Callender, a journalist/hitman to write about a Hamilton affair with Maria Reynolds, who was encouraged by her husband, and tried to blackmail Hamilton, and, after the affair was publicized by Callendar, publicly apologized. Sound familiar?


Jefferson, an early critic of slavery, never freed his slaves, and, as we now know fathered children by Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves.


Does it sound like the 1790s? or today?


The term Hamiltonian has come to mean a suspicion of the “commoner,” a belief that the powers of governing must be vested with the well educated and the wealthy, the aristocracy that Hamilton believed were the only people fit to lead.


Jeffersonians placed their faith in the people, the commoners. They abjured the power of the elite, feared a return to monarchy, and believed that a “little revolution was a good thing.”


In his six plus years the Mayor has clearly shown himself to be a Hamiltonian. He has co-opted Chris Quinn, the Speaker of the City Council, and simply ignores the groans and cries of the Council. The Borough Presidents are figureheads.


The Mayor is a superb manager, whether in managing a budget, or a crisis, in reducing crime, and appears to be “above” the politics of the jungle of urban politics.


Interestingly the Jeffersonians are those who are the critics the Bloomberg approach and of the Klein Department of Education regency. The parents, the teachers, the communities see an aristocratic, tone deaf leadership, that placates rather than engages the school community. A school system leadership team that has no trust; no belief that commoners: parents and teachers, should play any role in the decision-making within schools.


Two hundred and twenty or so years later morally challenged officials are once again struggling with the same philosophies that engaged our founding fathers.


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