January 19, 2013

Letters to the editor: Listen to teachers, not to reform group

(Continued from page 1)

Michelle Rhee
click image to enlarge

Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C., addresses staff and guests at a charter school in Opa-Locka, Fla., in 2011. The fact that a school reform group founded by Rhee gave Maine’s education policies a low ranking needs to be put into better context, a reader says.

2011 File Photo/The Associated Press

This led to cars jockeying for the center in a subtle game of "Chicken," which had a huge potential for disaster.

The tracks are now flush, and the "games" have stopped. Great job!

Brian Peterson


Mobile counselors are ready 24-7 to assist mentally ill

In Tux Turkel's initial article of Dec. 9 in the Maine Sunday Telegram for the series titled "Deadly Force: Police and the Mentally Ill," he writes in a compelling manner about the incidents over the last 13 years of individuals who have died as a result of police action after these individuals were seen or reported to be a danger to others.

The story depicts a stark reality. Each paragraph builds the story line so completely that one could walk away from the article believing that persons with mental illness or histories of mental illness bring themselves to the brink of this kind of disaster regularly.

What was missing from the article was any mention of services in the state of Maine that are available to persons in crisis and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The toll-free number is 1-888-568-1112.

The instances noted by Mr. Turkel of desperation on the part of the individuals and their families is made more poignant when one realizes that on some level, either the system of support in the state has failed them, they have not known what resource is available and how to access it, or they have not felt they could or should use the resource. Mobile crisis workers are available to collaborate with local authorities when responding to such crises.

If the response from individuals in crisis comes from a place of violence and aggression -- which may stem from fear and desperation -- and if the response from the police comes to a place of drawing weapons, the incidence of such deaths will continue to increase, and people with mental illness will continue to be regarded as too dangerous to respond to in any other way.

Call the statewide crisis line at 1-888-568-1112. We can help.

Rita Alfonso LaBarbera, LCSW, CSP

clinical supervisor,

Sweetser Mobile Crisis Intervention for Cumberland County children and families


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