Shocking audio obtained by The Maine Wire reveals a Maine public school teacher subjecting a student to a racially charged political rant and telling the middle schooler his conservative parents only support former President Donald Trump because they are uneducated.
The audio, which was recorded in April, features the voice of Ann Cook, a resource room instructor for Gray-New Gloucester Middle School. It was recorded in secret by a middle school student who was concerned with some of the conversations he had had with Cook, including conversations about her and other students’ sexuality.
In the audio, the teacher tells the student that his Trump-supporting parents are uneducated victims of propaganda before proceeding to make several questionable or outright false claims about Trump, President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Your father and stepfather are just caught up in the propaganda,” Cook tells the middle schooler. “They believe the lies. And that’s the whole point of lying is that people believe it just ‘cause you say it.”
Cook says that when she sees someone wearing a Trump MAGA hat, she thinks to herself, “that’s somebody who needs to be educated.”
The instructor denigrates former president Trump, claiming he doesn’t pay taxes, while praising the supposed accomplishments of Biden and Harris. She also claims that white people do not go to jail for drug crimes and that “rich white men” are afraid they won’t make as much money because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It’s not immediately clear what prompted Cook’s bizarre political rant during the 8th grader’s study hall. It is also not clear whether other students were in the room at the time.
“[Trump] doesn’t pay taxes,” Cook said. “I pay taxes but he doesn’t pay taxes because he cheats the system.”
“He’s a liar and a cheater and he’s not that smart,” she said. “And apparently he’s not that nice either.”
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Trump’s critics in the Democratic Party and the mainstream media have often falsely accused Trump of failing to pay his taxes. Unlike previous presidential candidates since 1976, Trump did not release his tax returns while running for or holding office. According to tax documents that have become public, Trump has paid millions in federal taxes despite reporting business losses over the years.
Asked whether Biden and Trump got college degrees, Cook tells the student Biden is very well educated but Trump went to a poor college.
“Biden is very well educated,” she said. “Trump has a degree from a college, a very very low level college. And he was a very poor student.”
Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1968. Wharton is widely regarded as one of the best business schools in America.
Biden attended the University of Delaware and later received a law degree from Syracuse University. Biden, who has been caught several times plagiarizing both in his academic career and his political career, has claimed that he finished at the top of his class at Syracuse, but school records show he graduated the law school ranking 76th in a class of 85. Biden has also been caught embellishing his academic record and fabricating accomplishments on several occasions.
In the recording, Cook lavishes Vice President Harris with praise, telling the student that the former California Attorney General helped incarcerate pedophiles and get African-Americans released from prison.
She also tells the middle schooler that American law enforcement does not incarcerate drug offenders if they are white.
“Throughout her career, she’s been guided by the words she spoke the first time she stood up in court, Kamala Harris, for the people,” Cook tells the student. “She specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases, putting pedophiles behind bars,” she tells the middle schoolers. “Do you think that’s a good thing to do? I do too.”
“She created a groundbreaking program to program Instead of putting men in jail – usually its men, usually its men of color, because we don’t put white people in jail for these things – she came up with a program to help them earn a high school diploma and get a job rather than put them in jail,” Cook said.
“Do you think that’s a good thing?,” she said. “I think that’s a good thing.”
Harris has been broadly criticized by civil rights activists for her enforcement of drug laws against predominantly minority communities.
Harris’ presidential campaign against Biden famously imploded when U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) revealed during a debate that Harris was responsible for jailing thousands of black men on low level drug charges.
When the student says that his father told him gas prices have gone up because of the policies of President Biden, Cook tells the student his father is wrong, that gasoline prices have actually gone up because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and that “rich white men are afraid they’re not going to be making as much money.”
Although Harris has publicly touted her work on sex crimes and child victimization, her record on the issue is more complicated. As San Francisco’s District Attorney, she stopped that office’s cooperation with victims of the Catholic Church’s systemic abuse of children. Although Harris’ predecessor had built a case against the San Francisco Archdiocese based on several victim’s testimony, Harris declined to pursue the case and refused to make public damning documents sought by victims.
The parent of the student who took the recording asked not to be identified but is known to school district officials because he reported the content of the recording.
After the audio was disclosed to the district, the distract did not take any disciplinary action against Cook. She remains a resource room teacher for the middle school, according to the district’s website. The parent has never met Cook.
The students’ parents kept the audio secret for several months because they feared the teacher and school district officials might target the child and their other children for recrimination.
“I waited to share the recording because I didn’t want him to be targeted at school,” the parent said.
Emails shared with The Maine Wire show the parent communicating concerns with the school district’s principal and sharing the audio recording in September.
Rick Riley-Benoit, the principal of the middle school, said in an email that he had a conversation with Cook after the parents complained.
Riley-Benoit said he had not heard the audio. The email chain shows the audio was sent to Riley-Benoit in September.
The student who took the audio also told his parents that Cook has had conversations about sexuality. According to the parent, the student said Cook told him about her relationships with other women and encouraged him to explore his sexuality, although there is no audio of that conversation. The student also alleged that Cook showed him school files containing private personal information about other students as part of her conversations concerning sexuality.
Riley-Benoit did not respond to questions regarding these alleged conversations. Nor did he respond to questions regarding the school’s policy on discussing teachers’ and students’ sexuality.
Cook did not respond to an email requesting an interview.
The revelation of political indoctrination in a Maine public school comes as government-run schools across the country are under fire for the perception that teachers and administrators are inserting left-wing politics in place of traditional instruction. Controversial theories about race and gender are increasingly being taught as settled facts rather than the opinions of teachers and academics.
The Maine Wire has submitted a Freedom of Access Act request to the school district seeking public records that may shed light any internal deliberations over Cook’s bizarre rant to the 8th grader.