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Your child's school may call its teachers highly qualified, but that could really mean: still in college. Parents in two bay area school districts are now suing the U.S. department of education over the quality of teachers in California, claiming the teachers with no credentials are often sent to schools that could use the help of the most-experienced educators.

A number of parents in Los Angeles are also taking part of this lawsuit and what we have seen in California is that many serving African-Americans and Latinos have a disproportionate number of under qualified teachers. We are not saying that they are bad, just that they are inexpirienced. And California has gotten away with it.

Like most parents, Maribel Heredia of Hayward wants highly qualified teachers for her kids. She says many Hayward schools are not delivering.

"My son came home and said his teacher went to college today and I was kind surprised by that," said Maribel Heredia from Hayward.

Surprised because she thought her son's teacher was already fully credentialed and not a teacher-in-training. So when the teacher would to leave to go to college, a substitute would fill in.

Heredia is suing the U.S. Department of Education.

"It's very important for the parents to have this information. Who is teaching your child at school," said Heredia.

While schools report the number of fully credentialed teachers, they don't specify which teacher is or is not. Under the "No Child Left Behind" Act, Congress said all teachers must be fully credentialed; only then are they considered highly qualified.

But the U.S. Department of Education allows some states including California to also count their teachers in training as highly qualified.

Why? Because California has a teacher shortage.

"You know we have those big districts that are going begging. They are not being filled," said Merrill Vargo from Springboard schools.

Fully credentialed teachers have taken more tests, and have had more on-the-job training. The suit also argues that quite often these teachers-in-training are more concentrated at low-income and high-minority schools.

The State Superintendent of Schools, Jack O'Connell said today: "this is a factor in why we have an achievement gap in our state between students who are African American or Latino and their peers who are white or Asian."

"Does it mean that all the teachers in Walnut Creek are better than all the teachers in Oakland? Of course not. But on average, you are going to see more highly qualified, more top-notch, experienced teachers in a suburban district that in an urban district," said Derecka Mehrens, from the Association of Community Organizations For Reform Now.

The activist group acorn has also put its name on the lawsuit.

"This lawsuit is being made in hopes that we can raise for what the Department of Education right now considers highly qualified," said Mehrens.

The law firm Public Advocates is another plaintiff in this case. They say more than 10,000 teachers-in-training are labeled as highly qualified by the state. The case will be heard at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.


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