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published on December 26, 2017 - 1:30 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Research by two Fresno State education professors asserting that suspensions as part of school discipline are not effective and “don’t work in changing behaviors” has been with high demand.

Co-written by husband/wife team Jessica and John Hannigan and released in August 2016, their book, “Don’t Suspend Me!” criticizes such disciplinary practices in the education system as suspension, arguing instead for the treatment of behavior as an academic issue which is taught to students.

The Hannigans argue that the current disciplinary practices don’t work because of inequities and disproportionality in school discipline.

“There is disproportionality in discipline for students of color when compared to their white counterparts for similar behavior incidents in schools,” the Hannigans wrote.

They note that because of the many misconceptions of alternate discipline methods, there’s difficulty in convincing others that their idea is effective.

“Misconceptions arise the when arise when the term ‘alternative discipline’ is mentioned,” the authors said. “Some think of alternative discipline as an excuse to dismiss poor behavior.”

The Hannigans argue that while policies may change behavior, they do not change beliefs about discipline.

“The student has to be able to reflect on what they’ve done so that they can change their behavior and repair that relationship, whether it’s student-to-student or student-to-teacher, and to have it be instructional,” John Hannigan said in an interview.

The book has consistently sustained top 100 administration book status since its release, reaching the Top 10 in Amazon’s school safety category on several occasions.

The Hannigans teach in the Educational Leadership Department of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State. They have worked in education leadership for many years and have contributed to several Fresno County schools being recognized for behavioral improvement. They have also been recognized at the state level for their contributions to education.

John Hannigan is the principal of Ronald W. Reagan Elementary school in the Sanger Unified School District, which has been recognized during his tenure as a California State Distinguished School and has earned the Bonner Award for Character Education, among other accolades.

The pair conducts workshops for educators on the book’s topics and have presented for state-level conferences. The Hannigans have been contacted by schools across the country regarding equity and school discipline.

The Hannigans are also parents to two school-aged daughters and a son, 1.


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