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.

Ways to Connect

Madeline Fox / WLRN

Early-career middle school math teachers in Palm Beach County are beginning an intensive, two-year training program, with the goal of improving instruction, and ultimately, student performance.

Courtesy of Lily Fonte, alilycat.com

For a decade, Florida International University art professor John Bailly has watched his students discover other countries.

Bailly leads the FIU Honors College study abroad program, and spends a few months of each year showing students around Europe.

AP via Miami Herald

Florida leaders at the state and federal level are hoping to prevent human trafficking through education.

Proposals now in front of the state Board of Education and Congress would make sure kids learn about human trafficking in schools.

During a meeting Friday morning in Jacksonville, the board is slated to consider a new regulation that would mandate that trafficking awareness and prevention are taught in public school health classes.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

After a former student killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, Florida public school children are being watched more closely.

In a photo taken last March, a teenage boy is sitting at his desk with a plastic pellet gun that looks a lot like an AR-15. The airsoft rifle is propped up on the arm of a chair, pointing at the ceiling, and the boy, Eric, is looking at the camera. We're not using his last name to protect his privacy.

Eric's friend took the picture. At the time, Eric says, he didn't realize his friend had captioned the photo "Don't come to school Monday" and had sent it to others on Snapchat.

Miami Herald file

A controversial institute focusing on Chinese language and culture at Miami Dade College is shutting down after it became an issue in the institution's tumultuous presidential search.

Like other similar programs around the country, Miami Dade College's Confucius Institute has been criticized as a tool for spreading communist propaganda for the Chinese government. Although the institute opened in 2010, it has been thrust into the spotlight recently as the college's presidential search started, stopped and then started again.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

For people who don't have consistent access to food, the effects of Hurricane Dorian could linger for weeks.

Floridians who were scheduled to receive federal SNAP benefits, or food stamps, between Sept. 1 and 14 were allowed to get that help early, on Aug. 31, so they could prepare for the storm. But advocates worry they could run out of food by mid-September.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN News

Jefferson County isn’t just Florida’s first all-charter school district. It’s also home to the original “schools of hope.”

State lawmakers created the program in 2017 with the aim of attracting more charter schools to Florida. The publicly funded, privately run schools would get extra state money and regulatory incentives if they open in neighborhoods where traditional public schools have failed for years.

Read the full investigation at Chartered: Florida's First Private Takeover Of A Public School System

Associated Press

Like most South Floridians, school district officials here were closely watching Hurricane Dorian as it approached the state.

In anticipation of the storm’s potential impacts, public schools were closed throughout the region on Tuesday, and, in Palm Beach County, on Wednesday, as well.

There are a variety of factors that local leaders consider before closing schools and reopening them.

WLRN education reporter Jessica Bakeman discussed that decision making process with Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie. Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the district has experience helping people displaced by natural disasters and is prepared to do it again for Hurricane Dorian survivors.

The Broward school district took in more than 1,000 students after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and 1,500 after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands two years ago, Runcie said during a news conference  in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday morning.

STEAM pilot program / Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Updated at 5:00 p.m. to include additional closures.

Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County public schools will be closed Tuesday as Hurricane Dorian threatens parts of South Florida. 

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN News

The Miami Dade College board unanimously appointed a retired veteran administrator to serve as interim president while trustees restart the search for a permanent replacement for Eduardo Padrón, who retires tomorrow.

Rolando Montoya will return to the college as its interim president for the remainder of the search process, which trustees estimated could take up to another year.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

The chair of Miami Dade College's board of trustees has a message for people who attend the next meeting: Behave.

Bernie Navarro released a statement ahead of Thursday morning's meeting at the college's Wolfson campus in downtown Miami asking community members to "maintain professionalism, decorum and protocol."

"Civility is paramount to making progress on the issues facing Miami Dade College, an institution we all cherish and highly respect," Navarro said.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN News

To state leaders who support charter schools, rural Jefferson County was a poster child for public school failure.

By the summer of 2016, the small Panhandle school district had racked up a decade of Ds and Fs under Florida’s high-stakes system for rating school performance. More than half of its middle/high school students had been held back at least twice. At the hands of a dysfunctional local government, the district had devolved into one of the worst in Florida.

Florida’s first all-charter school district was engineered by unelected state bureaucrats at then-Gov. Rick Scott’s Department of Education, funded by the state Legislature and carried out by a charter school network based in South Florida, nearly 500 miles away.

This “experiment” in rural Jefferson County has been transformational for many students but disastrous for a few. And it’s already changing education in Florida forever.

You can read the full project at wlrn.org/chartered

Pages