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"Abbott Elementary" Is Comedic Genius, But Here Are 20 Times It Pointed Out The Realities Of Public School Systems

By Josh Rodgers,


ABC's Abbott Elementary is one of the most popular television shows out right now! At the same time, they are bringing a comedic light to the things that actually occur in public schools. Although the characters bring us laughs each week, many of the punchlines are based on actual life events.

Creator, star of the show, and BuzzFeed alum Quinta Brunson has struck gold, winning several awards for the series and its actors. And, yes, Brunson has mastered the art of infusing hilarious moments in the show — one can't help but notice the massive problems and underfunded issues public schools face in America.
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As a product of the public school system, I personally resonate with many of the stories in Abbott Elementary. Let's look at some moments where Brunson made us sit back and think hard about what's happening in educational communities across the nation:

1. It's not all bad...
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Many underfunded schools may need more resources than some others. However, they are not void of good, quality teachers. Janine Teagues is a shining example of the optimism of dedicated educators.

2. ...however, leadership can sometimes be a problem.
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Amid all the good, there will be a hint of sour. In the school system, you may have some faculty and staff who need to live up to the full potential of their role. Principal Ava is a prime example. Several examples prove that she cares, but you have to look deep, deep within.

3. Meeting the children where they are can be critically important to how they receive and absorb knowledge.
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When dealing with students who may have their share of challenges at home, added to the fact that there are sometimes fewer resources to support their learning needs, getting creative with instruction and engagement is vital to comprehension, development, and trust.

4. Funding is a core issue.
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Money isn't the answer for every problem in the world, but it sure does make things a lot easier, especially in the school system. Funds for books, project materials, and learning aids create a more robust learning environment that makes learning easier. Also, more funds for schools also address the deferred maintenance needs many public schools face. But in many cases, faculty and staff are left with using their creativity, personal income, and ingenuity to make what little they do have be the best it can be.

5. Sometimes, the pressure piles up.
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Honesty is a virtue, but honesty can mean also admitting that things are tough. And that is a challenging realization. Teachers deal with a lot, and when little is not enough, going back to the drawing board is the only other option. Mr. Eddie will not hold back the truth. He's a realist and brings it to every facet of his job.

6. Starting from scratch may not always be a bad thing. It sparks creativity and gets the job done.
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Whether it's a lack of materials for a science experiment or limited access to materials, creativity fills the gap. Teachers often figure out ways to give their students the best without making them feel like they're missing out. Have you seen what Ms. Teagues has come up with for her students?

7. Underfunded schools are not void of talent.
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One common misconception is that underfunded schools are underperforming and need to have the caliber of students of more elite institutions. This could not be further from the truth. A person's background is partially indicative of their learning capacity or giftedness. History has consistently shown people who came from little can still rise to the top. And most of this can be credited, in significant part, to educators like those represented at Abbott.

8. Let's keep it a buck, many underfunded schools are in Black and brown communities.
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There is no need to beat around the bush here. Black and brown students are disproportionately affected by the lack of investment in public schools. We won't go down the laundry list of reasons this is the case, but know there were and are intentional laws, policies, and actors in place that caused this outcome. The solution is layered, but the practical steps include a dream team of teachers.

9. Speaking of predominately Black schools, representation matters.
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In a world where lawmakers are doubting and burying historical facts (I am looking at you, DeSantis), showing students shining examples of their potential is essential. Inspiration often comes from visible models, acknowledgement, and acceptance of historical truths.

10. Still, there are some that are down for the cause even when their ethnic background is different.
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In a world of passive-aggressive support, communities of color need fewer allies and more accomplices — those willing to get into the trenches and use their privilege to help bring change where it's needed. Shoutout to Ms. Schemmenti and Mr. Hill.

11. Mastering understanding different cultures and celebrating them is key.
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No one should ever change who they are to fit in, but having a genuine desire to understand culture makes for a more inclusive and equitable learning environment. Understanding the nuances and needs of the communities you serve allows one to not step in as a "savior" but as a resource and accomplice (there's that word again) to the cause.

12. Teachers are often the parents some students never had.

Mentorship is important. It may not be the family you asked for, but it's the family you might need. Principal Ava is a LOT of things, but to say she doesn't care is a gross misstep. In her own twisted way, she always comes through for the kids.


13. Tough love is sometimes the answer.
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The world is a cold, cold place. Keeping a balance between reality and empathy is an art. However, there are times when things have to be communicated in an unfiltered way. It's not an excuse to be rude but a realization that not all truth is pretty.

14. "No" is a repeated occurrence.
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When funds are low and tensions are high, the unfortunate fact is that things may not happen. Hearing "no" can be crushing, but it often leads to the creative pursuits of those tasked to lead. Are you seeing a trend here?

15. Emotions are real.
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With so much negativity that can exist, it is customary to emote. Anger is typically not directed at the students but the system that perpetuates inequity in the school system. In the episode "Ava vs. Superintendent," we see the core cast come together to convince the school board why they need additional funding. Why is this issue even an issue for a school that already struggles with resources? It is indeed enough to make someone upset.

16. It takes a special kind of faith to make it through.
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Religion and spirituality do not resonate with everyone. However, it takes a more profound connection than mere passion for making it through the day-to-day struggles of navigating the imbalanced scales of public education.

17. Intuition and critical thinking is a cheat code.
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Anticipating the unknown is something many teachers will never learn in a traditional education program, but it is a concept necessary for progress.

18. Success will happen by any means necessary.
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Even though a school is poorly funded and under-resourced, it needs to be filled with people who care. They will also do just about anything to protect the institution, uphold the standards of teaching, and look out for the best interests of the students. Ms. Schemmenti is an OG and not one to play with.

19. Wisdom is in abundance.
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The teachers may complain, but they usually connect deeply to the schools they teach at. Knowing the limits, the neighborhood, and the challenges bring a sense of community advocacy that provokes them to stay and do their best despite their frustration. The ultimate OG here is Mrs. Barbara Howard. She has an abundance of knowledge and a great representation of the teachers many public school students could not have survived without.

20. Lastly, there is a grace to it all.
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And even though it all seems complicated, faculty and staff possess a unique superpower to make it all look easy!

Abbott Elementary is an exposition of real life at inner-city schools. Cheers to Quinta Brunson for making what will no doubt be a timeless classic. And cheers to all the educators in the trenches doing their best to mold and educate students.
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What are some of the nostalgic yet realistic things Abbott Elementary makes you remember about being a student in the public school system? Tell us in the comments below!

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