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

Colleen Wright / Miami Herald

It was 1999 when then-Gov. Jeb Bush achieved his biggest priority, the “A-plus plan,” which changed the way we have thought about schools in Florida ever since.

The law said schools should get letter grades so parents could quickly and easily understand how well they were doing. The grades are high stakes now, because if schools perform poorly for long enough the state can force districts to take drastic steps, such as closing them.

Twenty years after the law was passed, the school districts in South Florida have a lot to celebrate.

AP

This report will be updated during the evening.

8:00 pm

After traveling here from Springfield, Illinois, Mark Daniels paced up and down outside the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami - the site of the two Democratic presidential debates - and waved yarmulkes for sale. That is, yarmulkes engraved with the names of the 20 different candidates taking part in the debates - and even one with President Trump's.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Beto O’Rourke will be among 20 Democratic presidential candidates debating this week in Miami. But on Tuesday night, he got the stage to himself.

Miami Herald file

Democratic presidential candidates are headed to Miami for the first debates of the 2020 election cycle, and South Floridians have planned a flurry of events to mark their visit.

Summerbreakspot.org

Just type in your address, and the red dots appear: nearby schools, parks, museums and other locations in South Florida where kids can get free meals this summer.

The website summerbreakspot.org is helping families find free breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for kids 18 and under this summer. Kids do not have to be enrolled in a public school to receive the meals.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

Broward County lawmakers, school district officials and parents are launching a multi-front war against e-cigarette companies, which they argue are targeting teenagers in hopes of addicting them to nicotine.

“Their only purpose, let’s be very clear, is to hook another generation of smokers — or vapers,” Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said during a news conference Friday morning at the YMCA in Weston. “I mean, their job is to make money.”

Hector Gambino / El Nuevo Herald

Florida International University hopes to soon join the state's top tier of public colleges, working toward a formal status of "preeminent" that has come with millions of additional dollars from the state in recent years.

An appointed board that oversees public universities in Florida is expected to designate FIU an "emerging preeminent" school during a three-day meeting in Tampa this week. The State University System Board of Governors' strategic planning committee approved the label on Wednesday morning, and the full board will consider it on Thursday afternoon.

Broward Sheriff's Office

This story was updated at 7:45 p.m. 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has arrested former Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson for his inaction during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland last year, which left 17 dead and 17 others injured.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN News

Miami Dade College’s board of trustees voted down a proposal to significantly lower the required job qualifications for the institution’s next president, facing pressure from a rowdy crowd of faculty members who booed and applauded throughout Thursday morning’s meeting.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

A new group for young black activists in Broward County is being formed, in part as a response to the recent police beating of a 15-year-old black boy in Tamarac.

Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward is starting a youth chapter, called the black youth assembly, in June. The group announced the plans at a community forum on Monday night at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Oakland Park.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

A controversial state law aiming to attract more charter schools to Florida could soon transform public education options in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

The national charter school network KIPP is asking for more than $23 million in state funding to establish five campuses in Liberty City, eventually serving about 2,800 students in grades K-12.

Families of Parkland school shooting victims are filing at least 22 lawsuits against Broward County's school board, sheriff's office and more, alleging they failed to prevent the attack that left 17 people dead and another 17 injured.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Nearly a year after its first meeting, the state commission tasked with investigating the Parkland school shooting and making recommendations designed to prevent future massacres considered what its role should be in studying Florida’s mental health treatment system.

The members’ conclusion: It’s not our job.

“Mental health is a big topic. I think we have to be careful about transforming this into a mental health commission,” the commission’s chair, Pinellas County sheriff Bob Gualtieri, said during Wednesday’s meeting at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

Pages