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College Board promotes education agenda

Candidates for this fall’s presidential and congressional elections would do well to focus on education as a centerpiece of their agendas in Virginia and other swing states, according to a survey sponsored by the College Board.

Peter D. Hart Research Associates, a left-leaning firm, and North Star Opinion Research, a right-leaning polling firm, surveyed more than 1,800 voters across nine swing states in March.

Overall, survey respondents ranked education just below jobs and the economy in terms of importance.

In Virginia, 70 percent of voters said education is an “extremely important” issue for the 2012 elections.

Nearly half said increased funding for education is “definitely necessary,” and 59 percent said they would be willing to pay $200 more per year in taxes to provide increased funding for education.

Fairfax chamber reports strong membership growth

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce said it saw a 21 percent growth in membership in the first quarter of 2012.

According to the chamber, such growth is unusual at a time when many membership organizations are seeing flat or slow growth.

The chamber grew by 30 percent in 2011, with more than 140 new member companies. It is one of seven chambers representing businesses in Fairfax County and typically attracts larger companies.

“The growth in new membership we’re seeing at the Fairfax chamber is a testament to the quality of companies we represent,” said Fairfax Chamber President and CEO Jim Corcoran. “Our economy is still gaining momentum and companies are making tough decisions about where to invest. They are choosing to invest their dollars and time here at the Fairfax chamber because they’re seeing the return on investment.”

Fairfax No. 1 for public health

The third annual County Health Rankings, released Monday by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, indicates Fairfax County has the healthiest residents in Virginia. The city of Petersburg ranks as the least healthy locality in the state.

According to the 2012 rankings, the healthiest localities in Virginia, starting with most healthy, are Fairfax County, followed by Arlington, Loudoun, and Albemarle counties. The localities in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are the city of Petersburg, the city of Emporia, Buchanan County, Dickenson County and the city of Franklin.

The County Health Rankings ranks the overall health of nearly every locality in all 50 states, using a standard method to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.

Localities’ health were ranked on two sets of measures — health outcomes (length and quality of life) and weighted health factors, such as health behaviors (30 percent), access to and quality of clinical care (20 percent), social and economic factors (40 percent) and the physical environment (10 percent).