|Peppermint Patty - Test Taker Extraordinaire|
When Charlie Brown scored a perfect 100% on the Standardized Test and the entire school planned an assembly to celebrate him for his achievement I couldn't believe what I was watching. I groaned into my popcorn and shook my head in disgust. The entire school is assembling to celebrate a kid's score on a standardized test? Are you effing kidding me? A shout out to the testocracy's nonsense embedded in a Charlie Brown movie ? Say it aint so...
My 2 youngest boys ages 8 and 10 didn't seem to notice my horror or disgust which is good since I didn't want to burden their enjoyment of a fun Saturday night at The Palace with my miserable Dad the teacher narrative. They are also beneficiaries of the Test Refusal movement so maybe this test score hoopla simply didn't connect with them. I couldn't see how such a seeming pro- testing statement had any place in a Charlie Brown flick though. Yes we've already seen a few D-Grade Hollywood swipes at the teaching profession and its unions. "Won't Flush Down" was an unmitigated box office disaster funded by certain people who stand to benefit from busting teacher's unions. I knew about that and another earlier one and I was as pleased as anyone else when the thing died like Dangerfield on stage and disappeared from view in what seemed like about a weekend.
Imagine my relief and surprise when the whole school came together to worship a suddenly popular, quotable and celebrified Charlie Brown -- baby sister Sally selling Charlie Brown mugs and paraphernalia in the vestibule of the aud -- only to learn that the test paper in question wasn't his but Peppermint Patty's. When Charlie Brown was presented with his historic 100% answer sheet as a memento of his grit, excellence and rigor, he realized it wasn't his but that he must have somehow signed his name to the wrong sheet. How this might have occurred and how he knew the true identity of the perfect scorer we will have to leave ST Coleridge and the gods of suspended disbelief. The kid who scored the 100% did so by creating a huge smiley face across the entire scantron as I'm sure many a thoughtful child has surely done more than once or twice. As fortune and irony would have it, probably the most academically disinclined kid in the entire Peanuts umvelt, one Peppermint Patty, who's more famous for snoring in class than scoring 100% turns out to be the real genius.
Rather than taxing herself with reading and analyzing anything as moronic as New York's "Pineapple and the Hare" debacle, P.P. simply devoted herself instead to creating a giant smiley face using the bubbles on the sheet as a connect the dots template. It's probably one of the most brilliant responses to the tedium and stupidity of a Pearson Product to date. While I didn't much care for what I believed to be a terrible message of the entire school celebrating one kid's score on a standardized product I was duly impressed with the real message even if I imagined it myself which I don't think I did.
The true message is that even the least gifted of test takers can ace one of these ridiculous instruments using its own randomness and a go to hell spirit against it. The fact that non studious rough and tumble hockey star Peppermint Patty scored a perfect score by drawing pictures on her answer sheet says about what needs to be said for the merits of these time wasting exercises in mis-education whose scores are being used to fire quality teachers in far too many places. If the Peanuts gang has figured out the farce and fallacy of standardized testing can the rest of the country be far behind?