Jeanne Allen, the head of a pro-charter school organization known as The Center for Education Reform, started a Twitter war with Quinta Brunson Wednesday. She quickly lost.
Allen took issue with content in the latest episode of Abbott Elementary. The show, which highlights the struggles and successes of a traditional public school in Philadelphia, drew contrasts to a fictional, local charter school.
Allen, who wrote a piece critical of the show earlier this month, chose to go after Brunson directly.
“The creator, lead writer and co-producer of Abbott Elementary, Quinta Brunson, is from West Philly and attended charter schools her entire education,” Allen wrote. “She reportedly loved it at the time, heaped praise on it. Once upon a time.”
“Guess money talks.” Allen concluded, insinuating Brunson had ‘sold out’ her own life experience for TV fame.
Brunson, who grew up in Philadelphia public schools, created Abbott Elementary in honor of her favorite teacher, Mrs. Abbott. So when she saw the tweet roughly roughly an hour after Allen posted it, Brunson hit back.
“You’re wrong and bad at research,” Quinta Brunson wrote. “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. The school is now defunct – which happens to charters often.”
“Loving something doesn’t mean it can’t be critiqued,” Brunson continued. “Thanks for watching the show :).”
Twitter comes to Brunson’s defense
Praise for Quinta Brunson poured in just as fast as backlash for Allen.
“As someone who worked & led at several charter schools in NYC, Houston and DC, the Abbot team are doing a great job highlight the many issues with charters,” wrote Alscott Worrell.
“Separate from the fact that she’s wrong,” wrote Kendra Pierre-Louis, “I went to private schools throughout and I think private education is incredibly problematic. If you can’t critique a system that you experienced, who can?”
Even Sherrilyn Ifill, former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation shared her thoughts.
“Please ignore that woman trying to come for Quinta Brunson,” Ifill tweeted. “Public school has been a punchline of sitcoms for decades. But when one show lifts up what can be wonderful and important about public schools and what is often problematic about charter schools, there’s pearl-clutching.”
“Take a seat,” Ifill wrote.
Abbott Elementary remains one of America’s top shows
Despite the ire of Allen and a handful of others, Abbott Elementary remains one of the most well-regarded and most watched shows in the country.
The premier of season 2 brought the highest ratings for a comedy show on the ABC network in three years. Each week, millions tune watch a beloved cast navigate an under-resourced public school system to love, support and educate students.
After just 32 episodes, the show has already won a bevy of awards. It’s notched everything from Golden Globes, to multiple NAACP Image Awards to a Screen Actors Guild Award for best cast.
Speaking with Time Magazine, Quinta Brunson said she hopes the show helps people see the good in their communities.
“Through Janine and the rest of the characters, I hope to be able to help people love themselves a little bit more,” Brunson said. “And give themselves grace and appreciate the hardworking people in their lives.”