Tacoma Public Schools superintendent weighs in on pressing K12 issues

By: | January 18, 2019
TALK IT OUT—Carla Santorno discusses behavior with a middle school student during a restorative justice session. Educators use the technique to help students understand behavioral issues and make amends.

Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno weighs in on other topics confronted by today’s K12 administrators.


Link to main story: Tacoma Public Schools superintendent creates an opportunity engine

“The best things we have going for us now are content standards. There are skills students have to demonstrate, and there are many different ways for teachers to get them there.”


“Teachers who have kids who struggle—special ed teachers, teachers of kids with disabilities—these teachers tend to love having students who see things in a different way. They’re the ones who learn more strategies to address the things that kids don’t know.”

Student anxiety

“I was talking to a principal from another district who was getting ready to suspend a primary school kid who brought a big bag of marijuana to school. The girl said, ‘My mom is taking us to the amusement park this afternoon, and if I’d left this at home, we wouldn’t go.’ The girl was getting punished for trying to protect the family outing.”

Uncivil discourse and intolerance

“As a country, we’re going to have to figure out how to listen and disagree respectfully. I don’t mean lie back and let something happen and not let people know you care about it. But part of our agenda in school has to be teaching cultural competence, so students learn there are people who are different.”

Her hobbies

“Public speaking. I can give a speech anytime, anyplace. But the truth about this job is that your hobbies better be whatever your communities are doing on the weekends. I go to soccer games, I go to plays, and my husband and I go to auctions and street festivals—everything that goes on. I used to be a scrapbooker. I still do a couple of books a year, mostly from the events I go to.”

Community involvement

“The partnership I’m most proud of is that we have a barber who was really critical of our schools, and now he’s now part of our reading program. He cuts the hair of kids of color, and he asks about their studies. He knows what they’re doing at school. He has books for kids to read while they’re getting haircuts. He is a legitimate partner and has gone with us to conferences.”