'Abbott Elementary' Slams Charter Schools, Ignores Reality

Hollywood never lets a hit go to waste.

When Disney saw the blockbuster results from its Marvel Cinematic Universe it shifted the saga to be more inclusive and push progressive tropes. Critics derisively dubbed the new, "improved" MCU as the “M-She-U.”

Studios rebooted popular franchises like the “Terminator” series and “Charlie’s Angels” to make them more woke (and found audiences fleeing as a result).

Even Netflix’s “The Ranch,” a show originally aimed at Heartland USA, used its final season to promote gun control.

Now, it’s “Abbott Elementary’s” turn.

The breakout ABC hit boasts solid ratings and critical love. The sitcom follows Janine Teagues (show creator Quinta Brunson) as she navigates her way through a poorly funded, predominantly black elementary school in Philadelphia.

The show earned three Emmy awards for its breakout season and already has a greenlight for a third. Buoyed by its initial success, the show’s creators’ weaponized its second season to attack charter schools.

This year’s major storyline finds the school warding off the advances of Legendary Schools, a charter school conglomerate hungry to add Abbott to its school roster.

Not so fast. Janine and her scrappy colleagues have something to say about that.

Some of the show’s dialogue, according to a report at The Hill, sounds like talking points straight from the Teachers Union’s mouth.

“They don’t even require all their teachers be certified,” one Abbott teacher says. Another adds, “Yet they take our funding, not to mention the private money from wealthy donors with ulterior motives.”

The show’s perspective on public versus charter schools couldn’t be more obvious. And liberal news outlets like The New Yorker heaped praise on the show’s hard-Left turn.

Others noted some inconvenient truths left behind by the ABC mockumentary show.

Debbie Veney, a senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, noted in a USA Today op-ed that "about 70 percent of charter students are black and brown children and 60 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.”

Veney added that Brunson attended a charter high school and spoke fondly of the experience.

The show's tonal shift ignores other damning facts beyond a hunger for more school choice across the nation. The public school system let the nation’s children’s down in a historic way during the recent pandemic. Teachers Unions demanded schools stay shuttered and kids learn via remote technology.

The fallout has been tragic.

According to data released last month by the National Center for Education Statistics, 70 percent of U.S. public schools have reported an increase in students seeking mental health services since the start of the pandemic. A study published by the conservative think tank Just Facts reported that the mental stressors brought about by school closures will destroy seven times more years of life than lockdowns saved. 

Even the liberal Brookings Institution said those policies had a “devastating impact on learning.”

"...students and educators continue to struggle with mental health challenges, higher rates of violence and misbehavior and concerns about lost instructional time."

No one pushed for draconian lockdown measures more than Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. We eventually learned how closely her union worked with the CDC to keep schools shuttered despite the fact that children were the least likely to suffer harm from COVID-19 and the lockdowns' predictable side-effects.

Too bad we won’t see a character modeled after Weingarten on “Abbott Elementary.” That might remind viewers the downside of the current public school landscape.

Written by
Christian Toto is an award-winning film critic, journalist and founder of HollywoodInToto.com, the Right Take on Entertainment. He’s the author of “Virtue Bombs: How Hollywood Got Woke and Lost Its Soul” and a lifelong Yankees fan. Toto lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, two sons and too many chickens. Follow Christian on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HollywoodInToto