Vegas teacher back in class after Obama shout-out

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Associated Press

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 7:04 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 10th-grade Las Vegas-area teacher mentioned by President Barack Obama during his first presidential campaign debate with Mitt Romney said in August that she wished she had fewer students so she could give each more attention.

Claritssa Sanchez was back in class Thursday, the morning after Obama said he recalled she had some students sitting on the floor for the first two weeks of school, and they were using 10-year-old textbooks.

She did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.

Obama didn't use Sanchez's name during Wednesday's debate against his Republican rival. But as he spoke of the need to improve education, he recalled meeting her when he was in Las Vegas. He said he remembered she told him she had 42 students in class.

"The first two weeks she's got them, some of them sitting on the floor until finally they get reassigned," Obama said during the debate. "They're using textbooks that are 10 years old."

Sanchez was among educators who talked with the president around a classroom table before an Aug. 22 campaign rally at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas.

She later introduced the president to the audience, saying, "Every single student of mine could do much better if they could just get five more minutes of my time."

White House officials said at the time that the average size of Sanchez's history and government classes grew from 33 students when she began teaching in 2007 to 44 this year.

The Clark County School District has more than 311,000 students and 18,000 teachers at 357 schools in a region that for months led the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. The Las Vegas-based district ranks fifth in the nation in enrollment.

About 1,000 school staff positions were eliminated after the 2011-12 school year to deal with a $59 million budget shortfall — a move that administrators said would increase class sizes by an average of three students this school year.

Clark County School District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson issued a statement Thursday saying district administrators agree that class sizes are too large. She conceded that some 10-year-old textbook are still in use.

"In a district as large as ours, you could surely find some large classes and older books," Fulkerson said. "But that is not the norm."

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