LAS VEGAS (AP) — Smaller class sizes and helping communities avoid teacher layoffs were part of President Barack Obama's latest campaign pitch to Nevada, a state he's depending on to keep him in office.
His stage Wednesday was the Clark County School District, home to what he described as one of the nation's worst teacher-student ratios.
"Cutting back on teachers is the last thing we should be doing as a country," Obama told an energetic crowd of about 2,000 in the gym at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas.
A just-released White House report says 300,000 education jobs have been lost in the past three years. Obama has been pushing a year-old jobs plan that would help states keep teachers, police and firefighters on the job.
Portions of the bill have passed but Republican opposition has held up others.
"As a result, tens of thousands of teachers aren't coming back to school this fall," Obama said to chants of "four more years."
He added: "We should be hiring more teachers especially in areas like math and science where we need to be at the cutting edge."
A 10th-grade history and government teacher at Canyon Springs introduced Obama as a president who understands the need for low teacher-student ratios.
"Every single student of mine could do much better if they could just get 5 more minutes of my time," said Claritssa Sanchez.
The average size of Sanchez' classes, according to the White House, has grown from 33 students when she began teaching five years ago to 44 now. Sanchez was among a group of teachers who participated in a discussion with Obama before the event.
"Teachers matter. A good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by more than a quarter-million dollars. A good teacher can change the trajectory of a student's life," Obama said.
Obama is spending millions to advertise and campaign in Nevada, a swing state that helped him win election four years ago.
Education also was the theme Tuesday as Obama campaigned at a community college in Reno. Obama has visited Reno three times in as many months, though this was the first visit billed as a campaign stop rather than a business trip.
The line to get into the Las Vegas event stretched across the high school parking lot and an ecstatic, standing-room-only crowd greeted the president inside. Midway up the gym bleachers, a row of people held up large blue letters that spelled out "NV(Heart)OBAMA."
Those on the gym floor included Annie Fortenberry, 70, who said preserving Medicare benefits was a top priority for her. Las Vegas schools are in rough shape, she said, with high teen pregnancy rates and unmotivated students.
"Our schools haven't gotten what they need here," she said. "They need federal aid."