“Abbott Elementary” has become one of the biggest new shows of the past year and quickly earned its spot as ABC’s flagship comedy series. The charming mockumentary sitcom was created by Quinta Brunson, who also co-produces, writes, and stars on the show. Her perspective comes from personal experience. She attended public elementary schools in Philadelphia similar to the series’ Willard R. Abbott Elementary, and her mother was a kindergarten teacher in the city.
Today (March 16), Brunson fired back at a critic who argued that her views on charter schools are disingenuous. Jeanne Allen, a school choice advocate and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, stated on Twitter that the “Abbott” creator actually attended charters throughout her entire elementary and high school education despite posturing herself as a public education crusader. “[Brunson] is from West Philly and attended charter schools her entire education,” Allen remarked. “She reportedly loved it at the time, heaped praise on it. Once upon a time. Guess money talks.”
The Emmy-winning talent responded to set the record straight. “You’re wrong and bad at research,” she declared. “I only attended a charter for high school. My public elementary school was transitioned to charter over a decade after I left. I did love my high school. That school is now defunct — which happens to charters often.”
“Loving something doesn’t mean it can’t be critiqued,” she added. “Thanks for watching the show.”
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Allen responded to Brunson’s clarification with a thread of her own. She mentioned when Brunson and the “Abbott” team partnered with Scholastic last year to redirect their marketing budget toward putting on free book fairs for underfunded public schools, including her elementary alma mater. In the process, the charter school proponent inadvertently pointed out that Brunson’s high school closed because it didn’t meet the needs of its attendees. “Your charter HS focussed [sic] on architecture and design closed because the district didn’t consider how deficient the education of the students coming in was and how much remediation and time was needed for them to recover,” she wrote.
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Now in its second season, “Abbott Elementary” has tackled the school choice conversation head-on. On the show, the Legendary Charter Schools group attempts to acquire Abbott and transform it from a public school into a charter. By doing so, however, many of the students would no longer be able to attend, and the teachers and administration are faced with a difficult dilemma.
“Abbott Elementary” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC and streams on Hulu the next day.
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