Jessica Bakeman

Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, south Florida's NPR affiliate. While new to Miami and public radio, Jessica is a seasoned journalist who has covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Jackson, Miss.; Albany, N.Y.; and, most recently, Tallahassee.

Jessica first moved to the Sunshine State in 2015 to help launch POLITICO Florida as part of the company’s national expansion. She is the immediate past president of the Capitol Press Club of Florida, a nonprofit organization that raises money for college scholarships benefiting journalism students.

Jessica was an original member of POLITICO New York’s Albany bureau. Also in the Empire State, Jessica covered politics for The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. As part of Gannett’s three-person Albany bureau, she won the New York Publishers Association award for distinguished state government coverage in 2013 and 2014. Jessica twice chaired a planning committee for the Albany press corps’ annual political satire show, the oldest of its kind in the country.

She started her career at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. There she won the Louisiana/Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors’ 2013 first place award for continuing coverage of former Gov. Haley Barbour’s decision to pardon more than 200 felons as he left office.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and English literature from SUNY Plattsburgh, a public liberal arts college in northeastern New York. She (proudly) hails from Rochester, N.Y.

Half of the percussion section is lined up along a classroom wall, with whiteboards to their backs. Each young boy is shaking a shekere — a West African instrument made from a dried gourd and covered with a colorful beaded netting.

The rest of the musicians are sitting nearby in blue plastic chairs with djun djun and djembe drums at their feet. They bang on the instruments with one or two wooden sticks — or just their hands.

They’re laying down the beat for the girls, who are jumping and moving their bodies like waves to the music.

Miami-Dade County schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho hopes better academic performance will mean more money from the state legislature.

Carvalho and school board members highlighted the district’s improving state test scores during a press conference Friday at the school board building. Students in Miami-Dade are outperforming their peers in other urban school districts across the state.

Florida’s largest public school district is asking local police departments to share the cost of stationing an officer on every campus.

A new state law passed in response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School requires a cop at every school. Schools can also meet that requirement by training and arming school staff, possibly teachers — a controversial proposal that South Florida districts have rejected.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho has sought help from the county and other municipalities to comply with the law.

More students locally and across Florida are passing state exams.

Statewide, students’ pass rates on the annual English and Math tests increased slightly from last year. But South Florida’s large school districts made bigger gains of 2 or 3 percent.

Thousands of families depend on the free meals their kids get at school. But just because it’s summer doesn’t mean they’ll go hungry.

There's free lunch — and in some cases, breakfast — for kids ages 18 and under all over South Florida with help from the federal government: in schools, libraries, churches and other locations.

One way to find the nearest location offering free meals is to text the word “food” to 877-877 and reply with your zip code.

Broward County teachers want their retirement money out of companies that make guns.

On Feb. 15 — the day after the school shooting in Parkland — Fred Guttenberg stood on stage at the amphitheater in Pine Trails Park, expressing shock and anguish over the loss of his daughter, Jaime.

“I don’t know what I do next,” he said that night. “My wife is home. We are broken.”

Enacting gun control has been the main focus for some survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting — and some parents of those who died.

Parents of kids who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lined up on Thursday night to hug Cobra, Black Cat and Yankee.

The three volunteers are with the Guardian Angels, a non-profit network that organizes safety patrols in communities around the country. Their red berets and small tent on the sidewalk in front of the Parkland high school have been a steady presence since the shooting on Feb. 14.

“These guys were standing in front of the school every day, in the heat, with rain … protecting our kids,” said Jon Faber, whose two sons attend Stoneman Douglas.

Florida teachers’ unions are planning to sue the state over a new law that threatens their long-term survival.

Fifty years ago, Florida was home to the first statewide teacher strike in the nation. The protest led state leaders to guarantee public employees’ right to collective bargaining in the constitution and state law, making Florida a leader in the South.

Donald Trump is reshaping South Florida politics.

 

Longtime Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen decided not to run for re-election in a district that increasingly leans Democratic.

It’s a growing problem in South Florida: teachers can’t afford to live in the communities where they work.

Andrea Castillo spent the summer of 2012 working on her mom's campaign for the Miami-Dade County School Board.

But when Susie Castillo was sworn into office that November, Andrea wasn’t there to see it. The 21-year-old died in a car accident a few weeks before.

On the afternoon of Feb. 14, Fawn Patterson got a call from her daughter telling her to come to the hospital.

Amanda Ray Carrillo was pregnant with her fifth child, and she was bleeding. She’d been admitted to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale the day before but hadn’t gotten answers yet about what was wrong. She wanted her mom to be there when the doctor came to explain.

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