Jessica Bakeman

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.

State lawmakers are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the state's long-term financial outlook. Also notable is what's not on the agenda.

Gov. Rick Scott recently asked legislative leaders to give school districts another shot at money some of them rejected because they didn't want to arm school staff. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission — chaired by House and Senate leaders — won't consider his proposal.

Gov. Rick Scott is asking state lawmakers to redirect most of the money they allocated for arming and training school staff, since many districts didn’t want to use it.

The Legislature included $67 million in this year’s state budget for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which would allow for trained armed guards at schools. Named for a victim of the shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, the provision was the most controversial aspect of a larger, $400 million package passed quickly in response to the Feb. 14 massacre.

A new book will feature writing, photography and art from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers.

The book — called “Parkland Speaks” — will include first-person accounts of the Feb. 14 shooting and perspectives from students and teachers about finding healing and hope in its aftermath. It will be published in January of 2019 by Random House, according to English teacher and yearbook adviser Sarah Lerner, who is the book's editor.

After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, English teacher Sarah Lerner was displaced from her classroom. Now she’s going back.

Schools reopen in Broward County next week, and students are feeling anxious about returning after the deadly shooting that struck the district almost six months ago.

After the May school shooting in Texas, President Obama's secretary of education tweeted support for a radical idea: "What if no children went to school until gun laws changed to keep them safe?"

Now, Arne Duncan is working to make his hypothetical a reality: a national public school boycott. But first, he wants input from people in Parkland.

A state investigative panel plans to interview officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation about why they failed to act on a tip that could have prevented the Parkland shooting.

The last time the federal government asked about citizenship status on the U.S. census was 1950. Now federal officials plan to do it again in 2020.

On the afternoon of Feb. 14, Fawn Patterson got a call from her daughter telling her to come to the hospital.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was closed for a while after the shooting on Feb. 14. And since then, some of the students have been flying around the country for rallies and media events, leading a renewed national gun control movement.

Dozens of students, parents and school staff members lined up at two microphones in the auditorium at Plantation High School on Wednesday night to share their fear and anger with Broward school district leaders.

The Broward School Board unanimously voted Tuesday to reject the state’s new program to arm school staff in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shootings.

Christopher Powell was pretty sheltered growing up in Coral Springs.

“I didn’t wake up worrying, like many others across the country, about losing my life in school to gun violence,” the 17-year-old high school junior said during a town hall meeting on gun control and school safety on Thursday night.

Then he survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

“After the shooting on Feb. 14, I now have a different sense of security,” Powell said.

The negotiation and passage of Senate Bill 7026 — a 100-page gun control and school safety measure that is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature —  prompted some Democratic lawmakers to question whether LGBT and black victims of gun violence matter less to Republican leaders than white, affluent ones.

The white Republican leaders of the Florida Legislature believe giving guns to school staff members will help protect students.

But black members in both houses warn it could endanger them — particularly children of color, who are often disciplined more harshly than their white peers in school.

When Sarah Lerner walked into her classroom on Friday, she felt like time had stood still.

Abandoned quizzes sat on her students’ desks. Their backpacks were scattered around the room and cell phones plugged into electrical outlets. The date was still on the board: Feb. 14.

It was the first time she’d been to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since that day, when she sheltered 15 students from a shooter who opened fire in the hallways. Seventeen people died, and more than a dozen others were injured.

Not even two weeks after a shooter fired more than 100 bullets in the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students and staff are returning to the campus fearful of emotional triggers that could force them to relive the traumatic event.

State lawmakers are facing renewed pressure to pass gun control legislation following last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland — and the Legislature is only scheduled to be in session for another two and a half weeks after it returns from the Presidents' Day recess.

State Sen. Gary Farmer, who represents nearby Fort Lauderdale, is pushing the Legislature’s Republican leadership to hear bills he and his Democratic colleagues have introduced in past years.

Broward County school board members  say schools and churches need to pay more attention to the mental health needs of children. 

School Board Members Robin Bartleman and Rosalind Osgood held each other and cried underneath the Sawgrass Expressway after  a press conference Thursday in which the Broward Sheriff's Office gave updates on the massacre that killed 17 and injured 14 at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

Bartleman said the demands on guidance counselors and social workers in schools is “astronomical.”

State higher education officials directed Florida's public universities to hire more mental health counselors to meet growing student demand — and asked a Florida Atlantic University administrator to help them keep track of the progress.

Florida International University in Miami is lagging behind other public universities in an effort to hire more mental health counselors, according to a recent report.

Universities should have one counselor for every 1,000 to 1,500 students enrolled, according to the International Association of Counseling Services. In recent years, the State University System’s board of governors has asked the Legislature for money to help schools meet this standard. Lawmakers haven’t specifically funded the request.

Lady Gaga is bringing more than just entertainment to Miami this week.