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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Matias Ocner / WLRN

The student survivors of the Parkland shooting might get a break from this year’s state exams.

The Florida Senate on Monday passed House Bill 7055, a controversial education bill that is a major priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, in a 20-17 vote. But first, the chamber amended the bill to include a little help for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sophomore Annabel Claprood and her mom, Elyse, arrived at the Florida Capitol on a recent morning with a schedule, a map and a mission.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

About 40 Parkland moms — and at least one dad and one kid — had a long, grueling day at the Capitol in Tallahassee on Tuesday. They waited for hours to speak to committees, struggled to understand last-minute amendments added to bills and strategized in the hallways between meetings with the governor and members of the Legislature.

The trip followed a higher profile one the week before from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students after the Feb. 14 shooting there that left 17 dead and more than a dozen others injured.

Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

The superintendent of Broward County schools said a campus cop's decision not to enter the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building where a shooter killed 17 on Feb. 14 was "inexcusable" and "despicable."

Referring to school resource officer Scot Peterson, Robert Runcie told reporters gathered outside the school on Friday morning: "I wish he had the same kind of courage that our teachers that have showed up here today have."

Matias Ocner / Miami Herald

Not even two weeks after a shooter fired more than 100 bullets in the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students and staff are returning to the campus fearful of emotional triggers that could force them to relive the traumatic event.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

A group of elementary school students opened Broward County’s first school board meeting since last week’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting by reciting the pledge of allegiance and singing the national anthem.

The kids were in their classroom at Griffin Elementary School in Cooper City, but they appeared via livestream video. They weren’t there to see how their performance was received, how poignant it seemed, as their community mourned 14 other children and three staff members who were slaughtered in the Valentine’s Day mass shooting.

C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

The conservative Republican leader of the state House of Representatives wants a bill to become law so badly, he tied it to billions of dollars in public school funding. The Democrats in his chamber call the legislation an unprecedented attack on public education.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

State lawmakers are facing renewed pressure to pass gun control legislation following last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland — and the Legislature is only scheduled to be in session for another two and a half weeks after it returns from the Presidents' Day recess.

State Sen. Gary Farmer, who represents nearby Fort Lauderdale, is pushing the Legislature’s Republican leadership to hear bills he and his Democratic colleagues have introduced in past years.