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.

The mother of a Parkland shooting victim who campaigned on making schools safer was elected to the Broward County school board on Tuesday, as four incumbents fended off challengers — for now.

Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter, Alyssa, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was elected to the open seat in the district that includes Parkland with 65 percent of the vote. That’s more than three times the support earned by each of her opponents.

Two parents of Parkland shooting victims have launched formidable campaigns for the Broward County school board, and their efforts to overhaul the leadership of the nation's sixth-largest school district could be seen as a referendum on its superintendent.

Five of the district's nine school board seats are on the Aug. 28 ballot. Currently, a majority of board members in Broward support superintendent Robert Runcie. But these elections could change that.

Gov. Rick Scott is asking state lawmakers to redirect most of the money they allocated for arming and training school staff, since many districts didn’t want to use it.

The Legislature included $67 million in this year’s state budget for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which would allow for trained armed guards at schools. Named for a victim of the shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, the provision was the most controversial aspect of a larger, $400 million package passed quickly in response to the Feb. 14 massacre.

For the first time in the 61-year history of the Miami-Dade County school district police department, no cops were absent on the first day of school.

A new book will feature writing, photography and art from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers.

The book — called “Parkland Speaks” — will include first-person accounts of the Feb. 14 shooting and perspectives from students and teachers about finding healing and hope in its aftermath. It will be published in January of 2019 by Random House, according to English teacher and yearbook adviser Sarah Lerner, who is the book's editor.

A student pulled a fire alarm on the second day back at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, prompting panicked feelings among survivors still recovering from the trauma of February’s fatal shooting.

About a quarter of Florida's nearly $90 billion state budget pays for public schools. The Democrats running for governor say that's not enough.

"We can never spend enough," former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine said during the first gubernatorial primary debate in April. His opponents for the Democratic nomination largely agree.

On the Republican side, the candidates have focused more on career training as their education priority.

At Camp Shine, the counselors are actually counselors — and not just in the typical summer camp way. They're therapists.

In an annual back-to-school address, the leader of Miami-Dade County Public Schools highlighted the district's star teachers and students.

Like Lois Kirns, an 80-year-old physical education teacher at New World School of the Arts, who has been in the classroom for more than a half century. And Ethan Levy, an budding scientist and student at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School.

You, you threw my city away

You tore down the walls and opened up all the gates

In the days following the massacre at her new high school, recent transfer Sawyer Garrity wrote these lyrics. It seems obvious who she's speaking to, who she's holding accountable for the deaths of 17 people and the destruction of an entire community's sense of safety and security and peace.

But she and the song's composer, her friend Andrea Peña, say there's not one specific person to blame for the events of Feb. 14 — six months ago.

After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, English teacher Sarah Lerner was displaced from her classroom. Now she’s going back.

Schools reopen in Broward County next week, and students are feeling anxious about returning after the deadly shooting that struck the district almost six months ago.

Therapy dogs — and even a therapy pig named "Patches" — were popular at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the Feb. 14 shooting.

Parkland mayor Christine Hunschofsky said she was concerned students might feel isolated over the summer. So she invited the animals and their owners to attend "Therapy Dog Thursdays" at the Parkland recreation center.

Several current and former students and their parents describe Miami Country Day School as a place where white children mock and dehumanize their black peers and the adults in charge do little to stop it.

Broward County schools Superintendent Robert Runcie on Wednesday showed off a new system of fences and locked doors at Miramar High School — an example of the "single point of entry" standard that will eventually be in place at all schools in the county.

Here's how it works: During arrival and dismissal times on school days, there will be three or four doors students can use to enter or exit. But during school hours, several fences will funnel visitors to only one entrance. The door will be locked, and there will be police or security staff posted there.

Two South Florida community colleges are in the running for a prestigious national award — and the biggest share of a $1 million prize.

A woman who was separated from her two sons at the U.S. border paid $15,000 in bond to be released from detention. But the federal government did not make arrangements to send her from the West Coast to Florida, where her children were being held, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said after meeting the woman on Friday.

Property owners in Miami-Dade County are one step closer to absorbing a tax increase that would pay for public school teachers and campus police officers.

After the May school shooting in Texas, President Obama's secretary of education tweeted support for a radical idea: "What if no children went to school until gun laws changed to keep them safe?"

Now, Arne Duncan is working to make his hypothetical a reality: a national public school boycott. But first, he wants input from people in Parkland.

A state investigative panel plans to interview officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation about why they failed to act on a tip that could have prevented the Parkland shooting.

A commission that's investigating the Parkland shooting met privately Thursday to review the confessed gunman's confidential health records.

But first, the panel's chair offered some details about what law enforcement officials have learned regarding Nikolas Cruz's history with behavioral health treatment. 

Broward County school officials still don't know whether the confessed killer of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 attended a controversial disciplinary program after he was referred to it for vandalizing a bathroom in 2013.

The last time the federal government asked about citizenship status on the U.S. census was 1950. Now federal officials plan to do it again in 2020.

Summer camp counselor Shaunak Mishra floated from table to table during a recent afternoon art class at the Boys & Girls Club in Kendall, asking his group of second graders what they were painting.

"I’m trying to draw Batman," one replied. Shaunak — who the kids call "Shaun" for short — told him to draw the Joker, too.

The 17-year-old interpreted one kid's painting of green swirls as a soccer field and asked the table for predictions of World Cup winners. A couple of the campers chanted: "Mexico! Mexico!" 

They include a veteran art teacher who decided to protect classrooms, a former undercover narcotics detective who came out of retirement, and an early-career cop who wanted to help after the shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Florida’s largest teachers’ union wasted no time in suing the state over a controversial new law that took effect Sunday and could threaten the existence of the labor organizations.

House Bill 7055 includes a provision that would decertify teachers’ unions if their dues-paying membership falls below 50 percent. The Florida Education Association (FEA), which represents 140,000 members statewide, argues the law impairs individual employees’ constitutional right to collective bargaining.

Adjunct professors at Miami Dade College — which boasts one of the largest undergraduate enrollments in the country — announced on Monday their plans to unionize, at a time when state and federal policy has struck major blows to organized labor.

Three South Florida school districts earned “A” grades for the academic year that just ended.

The Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Monroe county school districts all saw their grades increase from “B” to “A” for 2017-18. Broward County Public Schools kept its “B” from previous years. The Florida Department of Education released the newest ratings on Wednesday.

DATABASE: Check out the grades for all Florida schools

The Democrats in this year's governor's race say they're all about spending more money on public schools — and slowing down Republican efforts to create more privately run alternatives like charter schools and vouchers.

But the newest candidate in the Democratic field founded a private school himself.

A Miami-Dade school board member will lead a national effort to convince the federal government to remove a controversial question about citizenship from the 2020 U.S. Census.

Lubby Navarro was appointed co-chair of a national commission that will hold hearings around the country and then release a report on how to get the most accurate count of Latinos in the census.

As far as Navarro is concerned, that means not asking about immigration status, which federal officials plan to do in 2020 for the first time in decades.

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