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.

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.

The Florida Senate on Monday night passed a comprehensive gun control and school safety bill crafted in response to the Parkland shooting by the narrowist margin.

Before passing the bill 20-18, the Republican-led Senate scaled down the plan for allowing teachers to be armed. Under the new version, people who are “exclusively” classroom teachers would not be allowed to carry concealed firearms unless they’re in the military or law enforcement. Other staff would still qualify.

They are angry. They are channeling their pain and stepping into the harsh spotlight of a heated and ongoing national debate. They are shielding their peers who feel too devastated to do the same.

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.

A budget proposal that is advancing in the Legislature would make next year's funding for Florida's public schools contingent on the passage of Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran's chief education priority: a new voucher directing taxpayer dollars to private schools.