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Teacher apologizes for 9/11 math problem that sent parents into uproar

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A Massachusetts teacher is feeling heat after citing the tragic events of 9/11 to teach algebra.

Parents were rattled to learn students were asked to calculate how long United Airlines Flight 175 was in the air before it plowed into the World Trade Center.

This Newbury Port student says the teacher was way off base.

The Newburyport High School teacher used specific times from the 9/11 attacks so students could figure out the answer.

Needless to say, there was a wide range of reactions, especially considering local resident Tom Pecorelli died on American Airlines Flight 11 that day, CBS Boston reported.

“It’s pretty offensive. 9/11 is a serious tragedy. Thousands of people died that day,” said senior Andrew Kress.

Mark Bavis died on Flight 175 and was from Massachusetts. He was forced to leave behind his friends and family, including a twin brother Mike Bavis.

Pat Bavis’ younger brother was aboard flight 175 and was one of hundreds with Massachusetts ties that died on 9/11. Bavis spoke to Boston CBS about the teacher’s judgment.

“I understand trying to teach education. They’re supposed to be mentors for kids, definitely the wrong example,” Bavis said.

While there are probably thousands of scenarios to use to teach the same kind of math lesson, many in the community are defending the teacher.

“She’s a nice woman. I think she just made an honest mistake,” senior Landyn Murphy told CBS.

“I told her thank you for the apology but no worries. Teachers don’t grow and become better teachers if they don’t try new things,” parent Nicole O’Connor said.

Maybe so, but Bavis isn’t quite so forgiving.

“This is sacred people, sacred grounds. You don’t bring anything like 9-11 like that. That’s just totally wrong,” said Bavis.

The school released a statement in response to the incident that reads in part:

“This was an exercise in poor judgment by the educator who intended to use the historical event as a mechanism to engage students in thoughtful discussion.”


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