Learning briefs

In Arkansas, an end to desegregation

A judge ended more than 40 years of court-supervised desegregation in Little Rock, Ark.'s schools Friday, closing a chapter in a battle over integration that began in the 1950s.

US District Judge William Wilson's ruling came in response to Little Rock's claims that it has met the terms of a 1998 desegregation plan to improve the performance of minority students. "The time has arrived for substantial control of [the school district] to be returned to the hands of the citizens of this community," Wilson wrote, adding that he will still monitor the district's efforts to improve the performance of black students.

Civil rights lawyers condemned the ruling. "Our position is the schools have become resegregated, with the approval of persons in positions of responsibility," said John Walker, a lawyer representing black students. Walker said no decision had been made whether to appeal.

If schools could just learn to share...

Albany, N.Y. schools Chancellor Robert Bennett said wealthier suburban districts near poorer city schools should start practicing one of the first lessons taught to children: sharing. Citing some steps under way in his home county of Erie, Bennett suggested suburban schools should start sharing resources, including teachers. He is scheduled to make his pitch Friday to the New York State School Boards Association, but some people have already expressed skepticism. "I don't think there are any districts that perceive themselves to have an excess of resources," said David Ernst of the school boards group.

U.S. News defends its college rankings

Brian Kelly, the managing editor of U.S. News & World Report, defended his magazine's use of SAT scores, alumni donations, and administrators' opinions to rank American colleges and universities. But as the new rankings came out Friday, critics still said the system is flawed. For the third consecutive year, Princeton University topped the list, while Harvard and Yale tied for second place. Kelly said he regrets the emphasis placed on the rankings by schools and the media, but maintained that the rankings help parents and high school students select colleges.

Buying lunch – with a celebrity

Ever fantasize about talking tennis with Andre Agassi while munching on a Caesar salad? Or maybe discussing the war on terrorism with former US Defense Secretary William Cohen?

In the online auction, "Lunch with a Leader" (www.lunchwithaleader.com), bidders can compete for lunch with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, news anchor Cokie Roberts, NBA president David Stern, Chef Wolfgang Puck, or more than 40 other leaders in business, politics, entertainment, journalism, and sports. Proceeds go to the nonprofit Communities in Schools, and each celebrity has committed to a one-hour lunch with the winner, to take place any time within a year of the auction. Bidding closes Oct. 21.

As of Sunday, here's where bidding stood for some of the most popular auctions:

Author John Irving $2,500

Tennis star Andre Agassi $1,150

Financier Mike Milken $700

Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark $650

Costco CEO James Sinegal $600

Author Deepak Chopra $500

News anchor Sam Donaldson $500

TV journalist Larry King $500

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