Jessica Bakeman

Reporter

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.

Ways to Connect

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

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

CARL JUSTE / Miami Herald

Superintendent Robert Runcie opened a community forum on Monday night by saying he’s not a liar.

“There are some out there that are concerned that somehow we misled the public. Some will say we lied. I mean, I’ve heard all of it,” Runcie said during a “workshop” on a disciplinary program known as PROMISE.

One of the parents to address the investigating commission was Fred Guttenberg, shown here speaking at an event on April 9, who lost his daughter Jaime during the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High.
AP via Miami Herald / John Minchillo

Parents of teenagers who were murdered on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School asked a commission tasked with investigating the massacre to report any findings that could help make schools safer as quickly as possible.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was closed for a while after the shooting on Feb. 14. And since then, some of the students have been flying around the country for rallies and media events, leading a renewed national gun control movement.

Associated Press

It’s been 19 years since the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, a little more than two months since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and just a few hours since a student in Ocala was hit with a bullet in his ankle.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN News

Dozens of students, parents and school staff members lined up at two microphones in the auditorium at Plantation High School on Wednesday night to share their fear and anger with Broward school district leaders.

David Santiago / Miami Herald

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said a school safety forum planned for Wednesday night will be the first of many.

Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

The Broward School Board unanimously voted Tuesday to reject the state’s new program to arm school staff in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shootings.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Christopher Powell was pretty sheltered growing up in Coral Springs.

“I didn’t wake up worrying, like many others across the country, about losing my life in school to gun violence,” the 17-year-old high school junior said during a town hall meeting on gun control and school safety on Thursday night.

Then he survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

“After the shooting on Feb. 14, I now have a different sense of security,” Powell said.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN News

Robert Avossa surprised the Palm Beach County School Board and the community early last month when he announced he would leave the helm of the school district after two and a half years for a new career in publishing.

The Florida House

The white Republican leaders of the Florida Legislature believe giving guns to school staff members will help protect students.

But black members in both houses warn it could endanger them — particularly children of color, who are often disciplined more harshly than their white peers in school.

The Florida Senate on Monday night passed a comprehensive gun control and school safety bill crafted in response to the Parkland shooting by the narrowist margin.

Before passing the bill 20-18, the Republican-led Senate scaled down the plan for allowing teachers to be armed. Under the new version, people who are “exclusively” classroom teachers would not be allowed to carry concealed firearms unless they’re in the military or law enforcement. Other staff would still qualify.

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