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.

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Sebastian Ballestas / Miami Herald

Florida International University will now host an early voting site, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday after facing pressure from civil rights groups.

Advocates pushed for early voting at FIU and Miami Dade College following a July court ruling that struck down a previous ban on establishing the polling places on college campuses. Gimenez’s administration initially refused to create additional early voting sites, stressing that long-term planning had been underway for the 25 locations that had already been chosen.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald Archive

Broward County state Sen. Lauren Book was floated as a potential running mate for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum — but she says she wouldn’t have accepted the offer if it had materialized.

Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor who snagged the Democratic nomination for governor in an upset victory on Aug. 28, ultimately chose one of his primary opponents for the lieutenant governor spot on his ticket. Book said she thinks Orlando entrepreneur Chris King is a “wonderful, wonderful choice” and said she’s on “Team Gillum” heading into November.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

The president of the University of Miami is hoping to significantly increase the institution’s endowment — and its national and international stature — ahead of its centennial celebration in 2025.

President Julio Frenk calls the private university’s newly adopted strategic plan a “roadmap to our new century.”

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to become a university not just of Miami, not just of this country, but also of the world,” Frenk said during a state of the university speech on Monday night.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Local chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and several other groups are calling on Miami-Dade County to offer early voting on college campuses here.

The groups argue college students often lack transportation to get to the polls, and many have classes or work obligations on Election Day. So they could be disenfranchised without access to early voting on their campuses.

Miami Herald Archive

State lawmakers are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the state's long-term financial outlook. Also notable is what's not on the agenda.

Gov. Rick Scott recently asked legislative leaders to give school districts another shot at money some of them rejected because they didn't want to arm school staff. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission — chaired by House and Senate leaders — won't consider his proposal.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

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.

Caitie Switalski / WLRN

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.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

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.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

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.

Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post

The Palm Beach County school district is planning changes for upcoming football games after two people were shot during a pre-season match late Friday night.

Some football games will be played on Saturday mornings, and remaining Friday games will start an hour earlier, at 6 p.m., as a result of the shooting during the Palm Beach Central High School game against William T. Dwyer High School. Also, from now on, only clear bags will be allowed at games, and there will be no re-entry allowed if people leave the stadium during a game.

David Santiago / Miami Herald

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.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

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.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

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.

Robert Runcie
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Summer is just about over for students and teachers in South Florida. Schools reopened in Palm Beach County on Monday. On Wednesday, they reopened in Monroe and Broward Counties.

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