The Arts Education Partnership: Helping to Realize the Potential of the Arts for Every Child

Inventor and artist. A genius of “hip.” These have been some of the words used to describe Steve Jobs – a 21st-century visionary and innovator whom the world lost on the heels of National Arts and Humanities Month. His iPods, iPads, iTunes, Macs, and apps unleashed exciting new ways of communicating and learning for millions of students, who find history lessons coming to life in the palm of their hands, discover their fingertips as virtual paintbrushes, and create musical compositions at the touch of a screen.

The Arts Education Partnership (AEP), along with many others, is asking the questions: “Who will be the next Steve Jobs?” “What will be the next breakthrough to revolutionize our lives?” That’s because at the heart of AEP’s purpose is this question: “How do we harness the potential in every child and nurture a Jobs-like spirit of ‘curiosity seeker’ in each of them?” With this purpose in mind, AEP galvanizes the power of partners across many sectors to promote the essential role the arts play in helping all students succeed in school, life, and work. Unfortunately, as much as arts are a part of a complete and well-rounded education, their place in America’s P-12 education system is still threatened by narrowed curricula, conflicting policies, and budget shortfalls.

Rooted in this challenging environment are AEP’s credible voice and repository of resources to help the field. Here are a few of those resources:

music matters

  • AEP, in partnership with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, recently published “What School Leaders Can Do to Increase Arts Education.” It identifies 15 strategies to increase arts education in America’s schools drawn from examples of highly effective principals from around the country. (Download a copy.)
  • AEP’s “Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve, and Succeed” provides powerful evidence that music education: prepares students to learn, facilitates their academic achievement, and develops their creative capacities for lifelong success. (Download the research bulletin.)
  • And, coming soon to an iPad near you, AEP will launch a much-anticipated Arts Education Research and Policy Clearinghouse in 2012. The interactive centerpiece, ArtsEd Search, will provide user-friendly summaries of key research findings, point to areas where additional knowledge is needed, and identify strategic policy implications.

Undoubtedly, Steve Jobs envisioned and then created tools that can help make learning fun, engaging, relevant for students – oh, and dare we say cool? In much the same way, arts education can transform students, communities, and their schools. AEP, through the critical evidence it gathers and shares with the field, knows for sure that quality arts learning fosters young people’s capacities for critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and collaboration – skills essential to their growth as successful learners, creative problem solvers, and competitive participants in this global economy.

Guest blogger: Laura Johnson, AEP Senior Associate for Communications and Partnerships

A national coalition of more than 100 education, arts, cultural, business, government, and philanthropic organizations, AEP serves as the leading source of objective, non-partisan information about current and emerging arts education research, policies, issues, and best arts education practices of national significance. Established in 1995, AEP is supported by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts, in cooperation with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Visit for complete information.

Editor’s noteClick here to check out the companion article about OII-supported initiatives related to National Arts and Humanities Month and here to read Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s ED Blog on the observance.