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Incredibly Sexy Standards Developer Dies, Smothered by Dictionaries

by staff

John Q. Mumblethorpe, 47, died doing what he loved most, compiling standards-based lists of suffixes.

A longtime consultant to Achieve, died on Monday at his home in Trenton.

The death was confirmed by his lawyer, Eugene Z. Madison, who declined to give details other than to say that a pile of dictionaries fell on Mumblethorpe.

Rumors are unconfirmed that he was found with Webster's Third covering his face.

Although never married, John Mumblethorpe confided he had been engaged 17 times. "Females just don't seem to want to stick around for the prefixes," he told Oprah in one of many appearances on her show.

At age 13, Mumblethorpe was a runner-up in the Pocahontas County Spelling Bee, getting bounced by "pithecological."

Mumblethorpe, who collaborated with the Pulitzer playwright Jon Jonas on "Up with Prefixes," plunged into the thick of Trenton's intellectual life after arriving on a Greyhound bus from Pocahontas County, West Virginia at the age of 19. He formed close friendships with the editorial boards of The American Heritage Dictionary, the 1,789th edition of the Harbrace Handbook, and The New York Times.

Mr. Mumblethorpe's dramatic endeavors never reached more than a small audience, but that audience was determined. Louis V. Gerstner, Hillary Clinton, and Diane Ravitch praised his devotion to standards. Bill Gates was in the audience at a touring company revival of "A Surfeit of Suffixes" which premiered off-off-off Broadway in 1992. Rumors that Gates will back a musical version were unconfirmed at press time.

Mumblethorpe had completed the libretto for a DIBELS oratorio when he died.

Mumblethorpe was present when Melinda Gates provided the nation's governors with signed copies of his memoir, Favorite Roots as inspiration for their work on the Common Core standards. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation used the book's subtitle, I never saw a prefix I didn�t learn from, as slogan for studded leather T-shirts sent to the Council of Chief State School Officers, co-sponsors of the Common Core standards effort.

Members of the Common Core State Standards Initiative Validation Committee received fluorescent rainbow T-shirts inscribed Don't Forget Suffixes! These functionaries will serve as honor guard at ceremonies where Arne Duncan will announce the kindergarten winners of the Race to Unabridged Dictionaries event at the Rose Garden, another in a series of US Department of Education reform initiatives.


Common Core State Standards Initiative Validation Committee

Bryan Albrecht, President, Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, Wisconsin

Arthur Applebee, Distinguished Professor, Center on English Learning & Achievement, School of Education, University at Albany, SUNY

Sarah Baird, 2009 Arizona Teacher of the Year, K-5 Math Coach, Kyrene School District

Jere Confrey, Joseph D. Moore Distinguished University Professor, William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, College of Education, North Carolina State University

David T. Conley, Professor, College of Education, University of Oregon CEO, Educational Policy Improvement Center (Co-Chair)

Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University

Alfinio Flores, Hollowell Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Delaware

Brian Gong, Executive Director, Center for Assessment (Co-Chair)

Kenji Hakuta, Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University

Kristin Buckstad Hamilton, Teacher, Battlefield Senior High School, NEA

Feng-Jui Hsieh, Associate Professor of the Mathematics Department, National Taiwan Normal University

Mary Ann Jordan, Teacher, New York City Dept of Education, AFT

Jeremy Kilpatrick, Regents Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Georgia

Dr. Jill Martin, Principal, Pine Creek High School

Barry McGaw, Professor and Director of Melbourne Education Research Institute, University of Melbourne; Director for Education, OECD

James Milgram, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

David Pearson, Professor and Dean, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Steve Pophal, Principal, DC Everest Junior High

Stanley Rabinowitz, Senior Program Director, Assessment and Standards Development Services, WestEd

Lauren Resnick, Distinguished University Professor, Psychology and Cognitive Science, Learning Sciences and Education Policy, University of Pittsburgh

Andreas Schleicher, Head, Indicators and Analysis Division of the OECD Directorate for Education

William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

Catherine Snow, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Christopher Steinhauser, Superintendent of Schools, Long Beach Unified School District

Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education Reform, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas

Dorothy Strickland, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Professor of Ed., Emerita, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers, The State University of NJ

Martha Thurlow, Director, National Center on Educational Outcomes, University of Minnesota

Norman Webb, Senior Research Scientist, Emeritus, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin

Dylan William, Deputy Director, Institute of Education, University of London


Members of the Project Team in English Language Arts at Common Core Curriculum Maps, another Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation enterprise, received Bronze Metallic Lycra T-shirts emblazoned with Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots--We Do It All! They will wear these T-shirts while serving as honorary pallbearers at Mumblethorpe's funeral service.

Lynne Munson, Project Leader

James Elias, Project Researcher

Antonia Cortese, secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers

David P. Driscoll, former commissioner of education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Diane Ravitch, co-chair of Common Core�s board of trustees and research professor of education at New York University

Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.


NOTE: No names have been changed to protect the guilty.

— staff
The Eggplant

2010-09-05


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