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 award-winning 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.

Ways to Connect

C.M. GUERRERO / Miami Herald

The driver makes sure Malik is wearing a face covering when he boards the bus. He arrives at school at about 7:35 a.m., and before he can pick up his breakfast in the cafeteria, he washes his hands. When he arrives in homeroom, he’s with only about a dozen other children, their desks spaced six feet apart.

Compiled screenshots from CBS News and ABC News

Two of Miami’s political leaders — and rivals — speculated about what caused the latest spike in coronavirus cases during national television appearances Sunday.

Screenshot from Zoom

Each spring, theater students at Miami Dade College write short plays. And then in the summer, they translate them from the page to the stage.

The summer class is titled “Theatre Problems,” honoring the challenges they have to work through to produce, direct and act in the plays. This year, the course really lived up to its name.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

In the midst of a historic economic downturn due to COVID-19, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a state budget on Monday that included over $1 billion in vetoes.

The full list of vetoed items can be found here. WLRN’s reporters have dug through the itemized list to identify some of the most notable programs and organizations that have had state revenues cut in South Florida. 

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

A plan to improve how public schools in Miami-Dade County teach students about racism drew a racist backlash last week — a response that reflected a long history of denying anti-Black prejudice in a place where race relations are more complicated than Black and white.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

The Miami-Dade County School Board voted 8-1 during a virtual meeting Wednesday night to review and enhance how the district teaches racism and empower a student task force to tackle the issue.

The proposal, however, became the target of a misinformation campaign.

Provided by Miami-Dade County Public Schools

The starting teacher salary in Miami-Dade County Public Schools would jump to $47,500 for the 2020-21 school year, and eligible teachers would get a 2.5 percent stipend, under a tentative agreement reached Tuesday afternoon with the district’s teachers’ union.

Broward Education Foundation Facebook

South Florida school districts have launched a social media blitz to celebrate seniors who are missing out on traditional graduations because of COVID-19.

The latest from Broward County Public Schools: augmented reality.

John O'Connor / State Impact Florida

The union representing faculty at Broward College started a petition asking the administration to reinstate 14 counselors who were laid off in April, a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic devastation.

Provided by Florida International University Frost Art Museum

A teacher banged a wooden spoon on the bottom of a saucepan. That, plus honking horns and the standard graduation songs — “Pomp and Circumstance” and Vitamin C’s 1999 hit "Graduation (Friends Forever)" — were the soundtrack of a coronavirus-style drive-through celebration at a Miami-Dade County public school last week.

The graduates weren’t high school seniors, though.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

A Cuban-American Miami-Dade County School Board member is opposing a proposal to enhance the district’s anti-racism curriculum and empower a student task force to examine racial injustice, arguing the district has been a “stellar example of inclusion” and claiming that any historical instances of discrimination propagated by the district were quickly righted.

Marie Izquierdo Twitter

Miami-Dade County Public Schools' chief academic officer is a top contender to be superintendent of the school district in Sarasota County.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Annabel Claprood waved and giggled at her computer screen as her name was called, donning a navy blue cap and gown for her virtual graduation from the small private school she transferred to halfway through junior year.

When she had pictured this moment, she saw herself in burgundy.

Courtesy of Diana Haneski / WLRN

Sometimes cute, sometimes irritating — it might be a familiar occurrence at this point: A dog barks in the background of a video conference.

In this case, though, it's definitely cute, because the dog is River, a fluffy Bernedoodle who's certified in canine therapy. And her owner is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's librarian.

Walter Michot / Miami Herald

Florida’s largest teachers union wants to suspend state exams and evaluations of school and teacher performance as part of a larger plan for how to reopen schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.