“Abbott Elementary” creator Quinta Brunson schooled a critic on her own academic background last week during a critique of her Emmy-winning television series.
Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, called Brunson out on Twitter last Thursday, stating that the actor and writer had “attended charter schools her entire education.”
“She reportedly loved it at the time, heaped praise on it,” Allen added. “Once upon a time.”
Brunson responded by deeming Allen “wrong and bad at research,” along with a detailed clarification of her education history.
“I only attended a charter for high school. My public elementary school was transitioned to charter over a decade after I left,” she wrote on Twitter. “I did love my high school. That school is now defunct ― which happens to charters often.”
In a second tweet, she added: “Loving something doesn’t mean it can’t be critiqued. Thanks for watching the show.”
Her exchange with Allen came one day after the most recent episode of “Abbott Elementary” aired, sparking debate among some real-life teachers and parents over the charter school movement.
Titled “Festival,” the episode depicts Draemond Winding (played by Leslie Odom Jr.), the New York-based founder of a network of charter schools, plotting a takeover of the underfunded Abbott Elementary.
Abbott’s conversion from a public school to a charter school would require implementing a rigid application process for students while possibly leaving many educators’ jobs on the chopping block.
Allen has previously called out Brunson and “Abbott Elementary” for their depiction of the charter school movement. The March 2 episode, titled “Mural Arts,” alluded to charter schools as being broadly funded by “wealthy donors with ulterior motives.”
Many interpreted the line, delivered by Sheryl Lee Ralph’s character, Barbara Howard, as a reference to Republican mega-donor Jeff Yass, who has spent millions to support charter schools and political action committees that push for the election of conservative candidates.
Speaking to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Allen called the line a “gratuitous slap against people with wealth” and a “hollow, evidence-lacking shot at charter schools.”
Brunson has frequently used her show to highlight the virtues of public education. Still, her comments on the movement as a whole have been measured.
“Are charter schools better? Maybe,” she told Time. “But can we support our public schools more so that we don’t feel like one is necessarily better than the other? Because public schools have so much to offer. And we wanted to focus on: How can we support our public schools?”