THE EMERGENCE of Citizens for a Better School Board, a group to evaluate candidates in the November school board election, puts the forthcoming election campaign on good ground as it gets started. Recent races for the board have been sleepy affairs. Inattention to the contests invited poor candidates, poor voter turnout and, therefore unsurprisingly, poor results. It was essentially an uninformed vote that elected the people who have led this board into its notorious ways.

With Citizens for a Better School Board, there will at least be some attention given to the candidates before Election Day. Endorsements or ratings of the candidates will follow, and that should give some guidance to voters. Ideally, other groups would form also to review the candidates. With several groups, possibly with differing perspectives, looking over prospective candidates, the good candidates are likely to become obvious.

The board has been too much of a first rung for anyone seeking a name in city politics. The ideal school board need not be politically orderly and devoid of argument. But the arguments should be about education, not whether Frank Shaffer-Corona has a corner office or should be flying around the world and at whose expense.

How this year's candidates approach these issues could spell the difference between another two years of small-time school board shenanigans and a serious attempt to improve public education in this city. The new committee can do a great service by helping the voters to make these most important decisions.