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:
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
Blue Ribbon Future of Fernbank Committee