Milwaukee fifth graders take on adult world, vote

Posted at 7:21 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 20:29:19-04

While adults work to decide who they'll cast their votes for Tuesday, some Milwaukee fifth graders put on adult shoes for a day, taking on some of the same adult responsibilities.

The kids tapped into their civic duties and professional responsibilities as part of a Junior Achievers Program. Through the program, they spend a day in BizTown, a simulated town, getting jobs, earning different wages and place votes on important issues.

In the town, rules are rules, even when your mayor is 10-years-old.

"Basically I'm in charge," explained Jeremiah Cooper, the mayor of BizTown. "I do it with confidence."
It's one of the skills students learn in BizTown. They work jobs at companies like Educator's Credit Union, Johnson Controls and Culver's. They get wages in line with their role and have to pay for items they want.
"It's like customer service and CEO's and CFO's," Tjuan Currin said. 
Cooper said it's changed his perspective on being an adult.
"I thought it was easy -- you go to work and on Friday, you get the paycheck, but it's more than that," he said. "It's not easy to be in charge, because some people think you're being bossy when you give them a command or something. And plus, the talking, I mean, I'm at school and I talk a lot and now I know how the teacher feels because they talk a lot," Cooper added. 
Part of growing up is helping make community decisions.
"They ask questions about what we can do to make JA BizTown better," said Cooper, who cast his vote at the BizTown polls. They vote on issues to their simulated town, and train for the real deal.
"One in four young people, if they could vote, wouldn't vote because they're turned off by the process," explained Tim Greinert, President, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin. "So they mirror in many respects what's going around them," he said.
But the children we talked to said they're ready to hit the polls, even if it is in 2024.
"At home I just fake vote with my brother because I just can't wait," Currin said.
They might, even, have something to teach the grown-ups already doing the job.
"Sometimes they're wrong, sometimes I'm wrong, but they never brag about it," Cooper said.