The Blue Ribbon Task Force’s Final Report on Fernbank

Remember the Blue Ribbon Task Force? This was a group of highly involved, intelligent, diligent parents and community members given the task of evaluating virtually all of the programs in DeKalb schools by Dr. Lewis. After well over a year of very hard work, they submitted a myriad of well thought out reports, most of which Dr. Lewis tossed in a dust bin. You see, he didn’t really want reports, he just wanted to keep these very involved parents busy while he ran around doing what he wanted.

Anyhoo – For what it’s worth, we would like to share the final report issued by the Blue Ribbon Task Force back in 2006. If Dr. Lewis had acted on their suggestions, perhaps Fernbank would not be on the chopping block today.

The entire report is available in our FILES by clicking here:

Fernbank Science Center Blue Ribbon Task Force

Below is the intro letter from the chairperson, Sally Sears:

This final report contains strong recommendations. The two dozen people who sat down to this job almost exactly a year ago share many of Fernbank’s admirable characteristics. They are thorough, committed, bright and questioning. Yet the job of defining the future of this wonderful place was complex. We did not succeed in creating a blueprint for its future. It frustrated many of us. We found:

1) The Science Center critically needs attention, oversight and support from school administrators and the

2) We struggle to find basic documents about the Science Center’s finances, lease agreements and
teaching arrangements. The methods of record keeping and the records themselves seem opaque.

3) The talent and dedication of the faculty is dimmed by conflicting missions and leadership.

We support several ideas better to align the Science Center with your goal of improving science education throughout Premier DeKalb County Schools. The immediate changes to polish the gem that is Fernbank include:

• A dramatic increase in the number of students offered the premiere class, Scientific Tools and Techniques, for school year 2006-2007, to demonstrate commitment to greater access and revamping middle school science teaching.

• Use technology in sharing terrific teaching through the system

• Require mastery of science before promoting students

The Subcommittee working on programming and instruction finds many nagging problems at Fernbank Science Center consistent with lack of funding, conflicting missions and oversight. Maintenance, the future of the forest, bus schedules, and poor follow-through from classroom teachers figure in the problems we found. But perhaps most discouraging was our difficulty clarifying and evaluating what Fernbank Science Center actually does, and who its target populations are. (See page 14 of attached report.)

The remaining three subcommittees struggled with similar issues. They did not choose to create reports.

We have great admiration for the staff and faculty at Fernbank, and offer particular thanks to Ann Johnson for her friendly diligence in recording, transcribing and making sense of long meetings. She was careful and successful in her work. Your staff made our job easier. Thank you for meeting with us twice, and sending us so many highly placed administration leaders to help us.


Sally Sears, Chair
Executive Committee
Blue Ribbon Future of Fernbank Committee

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Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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7 Responses to The Blue Ribbon Task Force’s Final Report on Fernbank

  1. anothercomment says:

    They made a big mistake of appointing Sally Sears a journalist the Chair of this Committee of course she and WSB have copies. It clearly shows how Crawford Lewis and the Finance Department were hiding money and not on the up and up 7 years ago. They had no intention of turning over the books to this group.

    It amazes me that the Raciest Southsiders like to scream about the highly educated “Fernbank Parent crowd”. After all what would Dekalb county have without its two business Center’s the CDC/Emory Clifton Cooridor Area. Which probably has the highest level of degree holding parents in the county. Then the Perimeter Mall/Dunwoody Area, if it wasn’t for these two area’s what would become of Dekalb. They would have no tax base. If only Dekalb County could have Lianne Leviante or Manual Maloof back as CEO. They attended ground breakings if you asked, without entrourages like Hip Hop Stars. That is the biggest part of the time.

  2. Dekalbite2 says:

    Why do you say “Racist Southsider” screaming about the Fernbank Parent crowd? I live near Fernbank and I’ve been one the most vocal commenters and criticizers of the inflence this powerful group has on our school system – generally for the good of their community and the detriment of the rest of DeKalb. I don’t believe that just because the CDC and Emory are staffed by many in the well educated Fernbank community that they deserve more of our educational resources than other areas. This seems to be what you imply.

  3. justwatch says:

    I live in N. DeKalb as well and don’t believe that FSC should be the financial responsibility of the school system. Sorry.
    I believe the many in the Fernbank community act like they and their issues are the center of the universe. Ever since their memos on how to hijack the community sessions during redistricting, it is clear that their agenda isn’t DeKalb centric.

  4. Realistic says:

    DeKalb County Schools can’t afford the pricetag of Fernbank. Every expenditure that doesn’t focus on the students and teachers in the classrooms needs to get the ax. How crazy is it that they think it’s more important to keep Fernbank open when teachers are facing two additional furlough days?

  5. Miss Management says:

    No use debating. It’s already been saved. Fernbank was taken off the list of cuts yesterday.

  6. educator90 says:

    We need to go to the meeting tonight and have our voices heard. Fernbank supporters will be there and if we don’t show up, that it’s our own fault for not trying to make changes and to hold the board accountable for educating ALL children. The Fernbank community is an oiled machine and we need to fight for our beliefs just as they will for theirs.

  7. justwatch says:

    Actually, it is clear, in the media reports that Fernbank has been saved “for now.”

    If you can’t go tonight, it is important to email the board your feelings about this issue. It is wrong to sacrifice almost anything for Fernbank, especially cuts that directly impact the students and teachers. (Atkinson should be slashing the central office to its core, by the way.)

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