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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.

Last year, the University of Florida announced it would spend $17 million trying to solve some of society's biggest problems through new approaches. One of the winning "moonshot" proposals aims to put a scientist in every Florida school — at least for a visit once a year.

Federal health officials visited Miami this week to learn more about why HIV infection rates are higher in South Florida and Puerto Rico than most of the rest of the country and what they can do to change that.

New state policies born out of the Parkland school shooting have drawn the scrutiny of two national nonprofit research organizations, which have argued in recent reports that the strategies could lead to violence or discrimination against students.

The Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., and the Southern Poverty Law Center released reports this month criticizing Florida’s response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

UPDATED: Education Reform Now has acknowledged its report was inaccurate and has reissued the report with an apology. Read more here.

The Miami-Dade County School Board has filed a federal lawsuit against more than a dozen corporations that manufacture or distribute opioids, claiming that the nation’s fourth largest school district should be compensated for the money it has spent battling the “worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history.”

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

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.

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.

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.

Lawyers representing the families of students and staff killed or injured in last year's mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland began filing 20 lawsuits on Wednesday against defendants including: the Broward County School Board, the Broward County Sheriff's Office (BSO), Broward County Sheriff's officer Scot Peterson, MSD campus monitor Andrew Medina and Henderson Behavioral Health Inc. of Florida.

The shared complaint, at least of the first 10 suits filed, is negligence:

The Broward County school board rejected a proposal from its newest member to fire Superintendent Robert Runcie, voting 6-3 against ending his contract after community members spoke for four hours in overwhelming support of his leadership.

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said he wants schools in his county to be the safest in the nation.

His pledge comes one year after 17 students and staff members were murdered, and another 17 were injured, during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

About a dozen parents with signs and red banners gathered in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Monday evening to protest the leadership of Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.


The protest took place while Runcie was holding a private meeting with parents of 10th-grade students at Stoneman Douglas. 

Education experts at the University of Florida are tackling an urgent question: How can schools be made safer without scaring or psychologically hurting students?

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie abruptly canceled a meeting with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parents over concerns that the event might draw protesters.

The forum — organized by Stoneman Douglas parent groups and billed as a question-and-answer session with Runcie and other district leaders — was planned for Thursday night in the Parkland school's auditorium.

This week's Florida Board of Education meeting might be the first and last for Andrew Pollack, the father of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim.

On Friday, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected his predecessor's decision to appoint Pollack to the board that oversees schools and community colleges statewide. He also rescinded dozens of other selections announced by then-Gov. Rick Scott during his final days in office.

Broward County schools' superintendent Robert Runcie outlined plans on Thursday to quickly implement some of the key safety recommendations from the state commission tasked with investigating the Parkland shooting, amid criticism from the panel's members, victims' families, and even the new Republican governor.

Survivors of the Parkland high school shooting won't have to go to class on the first anniversary of the shooting that took 17 lives.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students will have the option to report to campus on Feb. 14 for a half-day of community service activities. If students choose not to come to school, they're being encouraged to plan their own community service projects off campus.

Videos and photos of police officers responding to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 show them saving at least two victims by applying tourniquets to gunshot wounds on their legs.

Now, Julie Osheroff is learning how to do that. And she's not a cop — she's a teacher.

Osheroff recently trained with about 85 of her colleagues in how to be a first responder.

Camp Shine — a free arts therapy program that began over the summer for survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting — was back in session in Parkland last week.

The commission that's directing the Florida Legislature's response to the Parkland shooting will recommend that public school teachers be allowed to be armed.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission voted 13-1 on Wednesday evening to suggest that lawmakers expand a state law that now allows some school staff to carry guns but excludes people who are primarily classroom teachers.

More people could still lose their jobs or face other consequences as a result of their actions before, during and after the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland high school, according to the sheriff who chairs a state commission investigating what went wrong.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission is preparing to release a report to the governor and Legislature by Jan. 1, and it's likely to include more detail about mistakes made by individuals leading up to the shooting that left 17 people dead, as well as during the slow, chaotic response.

As the nation’s eyes were on Broward County, Florida, for a flawed, week long election recount, a state commission a few miles away was investigating the county government’s role in the Feb. 14 massacre at a Parkland high school. It found that failed leadership, inconsistent or unenforced policies, and misinformation contributed to the 17 deaths.

The former school cop who hid rather than confronting the gunman during the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland high school isn't the only one who's been ducking requests to appear before a state investigative commission.

Two Broward County leaders who have been criticized for their handling of the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland high school displayed a stark contrast in attitude as they were questioned on Thursday by a state investigative commission that includes parents of slain students.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott accused the elections supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties of "rampant fraud" and announced Thursday his campaign has sued them over how they've handled counting votes since the election, as new ballots continuing to pour in have narrowed his lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

End Common Core. Pay new teachers $50,000 a year.

These education platforms are likely to be politically effective for the major party gubernatorial candidates — Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, respectively. But actually implementing them would be more complicated than voters might glean from candidates' stump speeches.

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.

When William Olson had a dog next to him in class, he got through the school day. When he didn't, he often went home early.

"Just knowing it's there, that I can pet it — it helps me remember that I'm at school and I'm safe," he said one July afternoon, as we sat with his mom in the living room of their Parkland home.

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.

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