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.

It was 1999 when then-Gov. Jeb Bush achieved his biggest priority, the “A-plus plan,” which changed the way we have thought about schools in Florida ever since.

The law said schools should get letter grades so parents could quickly and easily understand how well they were doing. The grades are high stakes now, because if schools perform poorly for long enough the state can force districts to take drastic steps, such as closing them.

Twenty years after the law was passed, the school districts in South Florida have a lot to celebrate.

Beto O’Rourke will be among 20 Democratic presidential candidates debating this week in Miami. But on Tuesday night, he got the stage to himself.

Democratic presidential candidates are headed to Miami for the first debates of the 2020 election cycle, and South Floridians have planned a flurry of events to mark their visit.

Just type in your address, and the red dots appear: nearby schools, parks, museums and other locations in South Florida where kids can get free meals this summer.

The website summerbreakspot.org is helping families find free breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for kids 18 and under this summer. Kids do not have to be enrolled in a public school to receive the meals.

Broward County lawmakers, school district officials and parents are launching a multi-front war against e-cigarette companies, which they argue are targeting teenagers in hopes of addicting them to nicotine.

“Their only purpose, let’s be very clear, is to hook another generation of smokers — or vapers,” Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said during a news conference Friday morning at the YMCA in Weston. “I mean, their job is to make money.”

Florida International University hopes to soon join the state's top tier of public colleges, working toward a formal status of "preeminent" that has come with millions of additional dollars from the state in recent years.

An appointed board that oversees public universities in Florida is expected to designate FIU an "emerging preeminent" school during a three-day meeting in Tampa this week. The State University System Board of Governors' strategic planning committee approved the label on Wednesday morning, and the full board will consider it on Thursday afternoon.

A new group for young black activists in Broward County is being formed, in part as a response to the recent police beating of a 15-year-old black boy in Tamarac.

Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward is starting a youth chapter, called the black youth assembly, in June. The group announced the plans at a community forum on Monday night at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Oakland Park.

Families of Parkland school shooting victims are filing at least 22 lawsuits against Broward County's school board, sheriff's office and more, alleging they failed to prevent the attack that left 17 people dead and another 17 injured.

Nearly a year after its first meeting, the state commission tasked with investigating the Parkland school shooting and making recommendations designed to prevent future massacres considered what its role should be in studying Florida’s mental health treatment system.

The members’ conclusion: It’s not our job.

“Mental health is a big topic. I think we have to be careful about transforming this into a mental health commission,” the commission’s chair, Pinellas County sheriff Bob Gualtieri, said during Wednesday’s meeting at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

Lawyers representing the families of students and staff killed or injured in last year's mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland began filing 20 lawsuits on Wednesday against defendants including: the Broward County School Board, the Broward County Sheriff's Office (BSO), Broward County Sheriff's officer Scot Peterson, MSD campus monitor Andrew Medina and Henderson Behavioral Health Inc. of Florida.

The shared complaint, at least of the first 10 suits filed, is negligence:

This story was updated at 4:10 p.m.  on Wednesday, April 10. 

Families of Parkland school shooting victims are filing at least 22 lawsuits against the Broward County school board, sheriff's office and others, alleging they failed to prevent the attack that left 17 people dead and another 17 injured.

Eduardo Padrón's first role at Miami Dade College was student. In August, he will resign from the role he has played for the past 24 years -- president of the school.

A conflict last fall over union recruitment at Miami Dade College resulted in multiple municipal police officers pointing guns at a labor organizer on the school's campus in Doral.

The Sept. 13, 2018, incident was one of several alleged dustups that have led the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to file a complaint against the college charging unfair labor practices, a claim that is still pending under Florida's Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC).

The Broward County school board rejected a proposal from its newest member to fire Superintendent Robert Runcie, voting 6-3 against ending his contract after community members spoke for four hours in overwhelming support of his leadership.

The new leader of Florida Memorial University wants to triple the school's enrollment, at a time when some other historically black institutions are losing students, facing threats to their accreditation status and even closing their doors.

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