2022 Midland Chamber of Commerce annual State of Education lunch

By Mark Palmer
CEO, Abell-Hanger Foundation


On November 16th, the Midland Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual State of Education lunch. The topic is literacy in the Permian Basin. Please come and learn about the issue and what you can do in your sphere of influence to improve our condition.

The Literacy Coalition of the Permian Basin is working on behalf of our community to increase awareness of our regional literacy deficits and address those needs by building the capacity of local nonprofits and other institutions serving low-literate individuals. We do that through sub-granting, collaborations, training opportunities and advocacy.

A recent study by the American Institutes of Research quantified the literacy deficits of Midland County. The study reveals that over a 1/3 of adults in the Permian Basin read at or below a 3rd-grade level. In some counties in our area, that number climbs to 50%.

According to the same study, this deficit can slow economic growth, overall earnings and related business activity. Estimates show that the total economic cost to Texas of the shortfall in adults with Level 3 literacy in 2020 includes -$16.4 billion in annual gross product and over -186,000 jobs. Without intervention, these losses are projected to rise to -$67.5 billion in annual gross product and about -766,000 jobs by 2050.

The Texas Association of Workforce Boards has concluded that Texas faces a crisis in education and unless changes are quickly made, by 2040 Texas will experience a weakened economy, with an under-educated workforce that will be less attractive to businesses, decreasing tax base to fund state and local governmental services, and declining revenues to build and maintain infrastructure.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board projects that by 2040, the Texas labor force will need 60% of all 25- to 34-year-olds — almost 2 million people — to hold industry-recognized certificates and college degrees. Only around 35% of this group currently has those qualifications. It’s predicted that technology will replace around 20% of workers with the lowest literacy.

For every dollar spent on adult illiteracy, society reaps $7.14 in returns — whether through increased revenues or decreased expenditures.

Now that you know, join us on November 16th and learn what you can do to help.

Mark Palmer
CEO, Abell-Hanger Foundation