Jessica Bakeman

Reporter

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.

Ways to Connect

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

Taking attendance is no longer as simple as recording a student as “present” or “absent” in class, with schools closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus and instruction being delivered online for the near future.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Tommy Strangie has played the drag character Shelley Novak at South Beach bars for decades. Now he’s performing karaoke songs from his kitchen, singing into a can of baked beans.

WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. In these uncertain times, our mission is more vital than ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

The president of a national union representing teachers and nurses argues Gov. Ron DeSantis has mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic by sending mixed messages about whether schools should be closed and waiting to issue a statewide order instructing residents to stay at home.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

South Florida's largest public school districts have announced they are extending campus closures by another two weeks or more.

Colleen Wright / Miami Herald

The Florida Keys public school district’s website homepage features a video message from the superintendent with the title: “Welcome Back to School.”

But it’s not August, and classrooms will remain empty for the foreseeable future.

Courtesy of Alexandra Chace

Alexandra Chace helped her students’ parents learn how to log on to their children’s online education portals. She worried, though, they might not be able to do it again once they got home.

Caitie Switalski / WLRN

State and local government officials and nonprofits are working to prevent South Florida children from going hungry while public schools are closed through at least May 1 in a sweeping attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

On the last day of Florida’s annual legislative session, state lawmakers normally pass the budget for the next fiscal year and then adjourn “sine die” — which means, it’s over until next time.

Then dozens of people crowd into the rotunda between the House and Senate chambers in the Capitol building in Tallahassee, waiting to see the ceremonial ending: Each house’s sergeant at arms drops a handkerchief to the floor at the same time. It’s a tradition that goes back nearly a century.

Colleen Wright / Miami Herald

UPDATED: This story was updated at noon on Sunday, March 15.

Millions of Florida children won’t go to public schools for the next two weeks, after the state Department of Education recommended sweeping closures in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

C.M. Guerrero / Miami Herald

A Miami-Dade County public school is closing until further notice after students interacted with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19, the school district announced overnight.

C.M. Guerrero / Miami Herald

South Florida’s large community colleges are canceling classes and preparing to transition to online learning, after facing criticism from students for not initally following other higher education institutions’ lead amid the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

NBC 6 South Florida

Broward County Public Schools is suspending all after-school activities starting Monday, including athletic practices and games, as part of the district’s response to the spread of coronavirus.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said his goal is to keep schools open as long as possible.

“Look, closing a school or an entire district has enormous ramifications,” Runcie said during a Thursday afternoon news conference at the district’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.

Miami Herald file

Miami Dade College is closing its medical campus indefinitely after discovering that a visitor who attended a recent event there has tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19, the school announced Thursday afternoon.

The medical campus is located at 950 NW 2oth St. in Miami, near Jackson Memorial Hospital. The college has also canceled events at all of its campuses.

El Nuevo Herald file

UPDATED: This story was updated with new information at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 12.

Three major South Florida universities are moving classes online temporarily in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The decisions will affect tens of thousands of students and represent one of the most significant disruptions to daily life in South Florida since the global pandemic began.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

An acrobat twirled on aerial silks, a midriff-baring dancer performed on gold-and-black stilts, and hundreds of teachers in matching T-shirts lined up for balloon animals and popcorn.

It wasn't a carnival. It was a Broward County School Board meeting.

The Broward Teachers Union's themed protest sought to paint the Broward County Public Schools as a "circus" ahead of Tuesday night's seven-hour meeting at Plantation High School to resolve an impasse over salary negotiations.

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