Jessica Bakeman


Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, South Florida's NPR affiliate. A seasoned investigative journalist, Jessica has also covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Tallahassee, Fla.; Albany, N.Y.; and Jackson, Miss.

She is the reporter and producer behind WLRN's 2019 audio documentary and investigative series, "Chartered: Florida's First Private Takeover Of A Public School System." She also played a leading role in WLRN's coverage of the aftermath of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In 2019, Jessica won a Salute to Excellence award from the National Association of Black Journalists and a Journalism Award of Excellence from the American College of Emergency Physicians. She was also recognized with the national Education Writers Association's 2018 award for education beat reporting in a small newsroom.

Previously, Jessica helped establish POLITICO's national network of state capital coverage, serving as an original member of the company's bureaus in both Albany and Tallahassee. Jessica also covered New York state politics for The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Jessica is the past president of the Capitol Press Club of Florida, a nonprofit organization that raises money for college scholarships benefiting journalism students. Also, she twice chaired a planning committee for the New York State Legislative Correspondents Association's annual political satire show, the oldest of its kind in the country.

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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Pasco County Schools/flickr

The first school bell in Miami-Dade County might be 40 minutes later, if the school board adopts a new plan under consideration.

Elementary and middle schools start anywhere from 8:30 to 9:10 a.m. High schools start earlier, at 7:20 a.m., because a majority of students attend “choice” programs, like magnet schools, rather than their assigned neighborhood schools.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he believes in science, and the science is clear: Adolescents aren’t getting enough sleep, and experts believe later school start times could fix that.

But Carvalho said he understands that pushing back the first bell to no earlier than 8 a.m. could be a logistical nightmare for students, parents and school employees — and he insisted the district won’t do it unless there’s community support.

Marsha Halper / Miami Herald

A junior at a Doral high school started an online petition in October that got nearly 185,000 signatures. The cause? A day off from school after Halloween.

After a series of viral petitions like his and requests from students and parents, a Miami-Dade County state senator filed a bill to keep sleepy, sugared-up kids home on Nov. 1 after a night of trick-or-treating.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Florida teachers have won some battles on the pay front in recent years — but for them, it’s too little, too late.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Thousands of educators in South Florida and across the state are heading to Tallahassee for a rally Monday afternoon, ahead of the start of the 2020 legislative session.

Florida Education Association president Fedrick Ingram has high hopes for the turnout.

“We're going to have the biggest, broadest, most comprehensive showing of force, of people who care about public schools, in Tallahassee that we've ever seen in the modern era,” said Ingram, who is the former president of the United Teachers of Dade, Miami-Dade’s teachers union.

Chris Cutro / Miami Herald

Palm Beach County has the highest high school graduation rate in South Florida — and it’s the only district in the region that’s outperforming the statewide average, according to newly released data from the Florida Department of Education.

But Palm Beach’s 87.1 percent graduation rate for the class of 2019 is down just slightly from the previous year’s 87.2 percent.

Monroe County also saw a slight drop last year, from 86.4 percent to a flat 86 percent.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Miami Dade College’s reassembled presidential search committee will hold its first meeting next week, with plans to begin reviewing applications for Eduardo Padrón’s successor in late March.

The committee is moving forward with a vaguer picture of what the next president will look like. A presidential profile approved by the college’s board of trustees states a terminal degree — the highest academic credential available in one’s field — is preferred.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Congress has passed two spending bills to fund the federal government. President Donald Trump is expected to sign them, avoiding a shutdown.

One provision in those bills is a reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. With the president's approval, the program will be extended through Sept. 30, 2020.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Esteemed former Miami Dade College president Eduardo Padrón headlined a Tuesday night campaign fundraiser for an alumna who once worked in his office and is now running for her first elected post: a seat on the Miami-Dade County School Board.

The 2020 race for the school board district representing south Miami-Dade is expected to draw at least four contenders — including a longtime MDC administrator whose son was lieutenant governor under Republican Rick Scott.

Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN

A downtown Miami bar’s beloved late bouncer still watches over the establishment — from a mural across the street.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

DISCLOSURE: The author of this story is employed by the nonprofit South Florida Public Media, which operates WLRN News and is a subsidiary of Friends of WLRN. The story was edited by a freelance journalist.

The Miami-Dade County School Board’s plan to hire a manager for WLRN radio and television stations is on hold for now.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Florida schools could soon come equipped with the drug that reverses heroin overdoses.

David Moore Twitter page

A top Miami-Dade County Public Schools administrator is departing the district after two dozen years to lead another one.

Joey Flechas / Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is opening a new front in the war against opioids, with a board member actively recruiting other urban school systems to join the district's pending lawsuit over the effects of addictive pain medications on students and staff.