'Here & Now' Highlights: Ben Wikler, Angela Harris

Here's what guests on the June 7, 2024 episode said about the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's state convention and escalating financial woes for the Milwaukee Public School system.

By Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

June 10, 2024

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Frederica Freyberg and Ben Wikler sit facing each other on the Here & Now set.

Frederica Freyberg and Ben Wikler (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

Leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler discussed the stakes to its voters in the 2024 elections. The Milwaukee Public School system has risked losing millions of dollars in state aid for being late with financial reports, and Black Educators Caucus MKE Chair Angela Harris, a second grade teacher in the district, expressed her frustration and concern over the situation.

Ben Wikler
Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin

  • The Democratic Party of Wisconsin held its 2024 annual convention in Milwaukee, and its theme was “Fighting for our Freedoms.” Chief among the platform’s list is abortion access. Wikler discussed whether abortion remains a salient issue for voters in Wisconsin given that access has been restored following a Dane County Circuit Court ruling.
  • Wikler: “The abortion ban that was passed in 1849 and loomed over the state as the court cases began right here when every abortion provider in Wisconsin stopped providing care after the Dobbs decision – that is in very recent memory for Wisconsinites. And many Wisconsinites know someone personally who was directly affected by that abortion ban. We’re one bad election away from an abortion ban coming back into place. Whether it’s Trump with Project 2025, his plan to create a de facto abortion ban even without passing a law, or the kinds of national abortion bans that Mike Johnson would pass — probably with help from people like Derrick Van Orden and Brian Steil if they go back to the U.S. House — all the way to our state, where Republicans in our state Legislature have been supporting and supported by the most not just anti-abortion but anti-contraception extreme groups. And we know that there’s an anti-abortion extremist running for Supreme Court in 2025: Brad Schimel. So this is very real. And the threat is felt very personally to voters.”


Angela Harris
Teacher and chair, Black Educators Caucus MKE

  • The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction suspended nearly $17 million in state aid to Milwaukee Public Schools because the district is months late in submitting its financial reports to the state. The district’s superintendent has resigned and its comptroller was fired over the failure. In the spring 2024 election, the district successfully lobbied for and passed a $252 million referendum even as its leadership neglected to maintain its books. While the financial reports ended up being submitted, this ongoing financial turmoil came as a surprise and for educators like Harris, smacked of a lack of transparency.
  • Harris: “It really makes it hard for the community, for staff to trust our district and knowing that they knew that this financial paperwork had not been submitted on time and that they could negatively impact our finances. And they knew this while simultaneously asking for the community to raise our property taxes — to provide financial assistance to a district that can’t even make sure that their financial paperwork is submitted in a timely manner.”


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