Why this school psychologist is leaving Iowa

Amy Endle began her career in Iowa and has been a school psychologist with an Area Education Agency since 2012. She emailed the message enclosed below to all members of the Iowa House and Senate on March 23.

Dear Iowa Legislators 

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to inform you of my family’s difficult decision to leave Iowa after 12 years of residency and return to our native Wisconsin. I have proudly served Iowa children, parents, and schools as a school psychologist since moving to Iowa in 2012. 

This decision was not made lightly and is driven by concerns directly impacting our livelihood and the educational future of our 3 children. The core reason for our departure stems from the increasing insecurity surrounding the sustainability of a gutted Area Education Agency (AEA) system. The knee-jerk decisions passed by legislators more interested in pleasing the governor than serving children in Iowa have not only affected the professional stability of highly trained education specialists, but have also cast a shadow over my family’s future in Iowa.

Equally troubling is our perception of the newly generated instability within Iowa’s public education system. As parents, we harbor profound concerns about the current trajectory of the education landscape in Iowa, which seems to be marred by decisions based on greed and not student need, potentially compromising the quality of education our children receive. Our belief in the importance of a stable and robust public education system for the well-being and future of our children has been a decisive factor in our decision.

Our move is a poignant reminder of the real-life impacts of policies and the state of public services on individual families and professionals. It is with a heavy heart that we prepare for our departure, carrying with us the many positive experiences and relationships we have built in Iowa. However, the need for stability in both employment and educational quality for our family has prompted us to seek a more secure environment in Wisconsin.

I share our story with you in the hope that it might illuminate the pressing need for attention to and action in securing the education services and media services divisions within the AEAs in order to insure stability of Iowa’s public and private education systems. It is our sincere hope that our departure might in some way contribute to a dialogue that fosters improvement and provides future families and educators with the stability and quality they deserve.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. We leave Iowa with heavy hearts but look forward to the future with hope for both our family’s new chapter in Wisconsin. Up until this year, my job had solidly anchored my family to Iowa. 

Warmest regards,

Amy Endle, M.S.Ed, Ed.S

AEA School Psychologist

Editor’s note from Laura Belin: The House approved the final version of House File 2612 (which will change how AEAs are funded, especially for education and media services) on March 21. The Senate followed suit on March 26, and Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill on March 27.

According to Democratic State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, as of March 27, nine employees had already resigned from the Green Hills AEA covering most of southwest Iowa, and thirteen had resigned from the Keystone AEA covering the state’s northeast corner.

Top photo of psychologist working with a child is by Andrewshots, available via Shutterstock.

About the Author(s)

Amy Endle

  • A sad story

    It would be easy to criticize Ms. Endle and accuse her of giving up and running, rather than staying in Iowa and working to improve the situation. But she has to do what she thinks is best for her and her family. But it wasn’t that long ago that Wisconsin was inflicted with Scott Walker and company. So maybe there is hope for Iowa. But it will take work and understanding that we have to play the long game.

  • Wisconsin, January 5, 2024

    In education news, the time is now to boost special education funding in Wisconsin. That’s according to Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly, who in calling for an increase, cites the projected state budget surplus of more than $7 billion. Superintendent Underly joins us now. Thanks very much for being here.

    JILL UNDERLY, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction
    Absolutely. Thank you.

    So you’re calling for an increase to the special education reimbursement rate to 60%, which would be about a billion dollars. Now, this was rejected by the Republican Legislature in the budget process. Why is it important for you to go around again on this now?

    Because it’s important. We need to fund our public schools and special education reimbursement right now is so low that school districts have to transfer money from their general fund in order to pay for these services, which are required by law. So if we were to increase the reimbursement rate, they wouldn’t have to transfer as much money and we’re also serving kids and we’re able to then fund the other programs that schools desperately need to fund.

    This has been the case for so long.