A MAJORITY of the seats on the D.C. school board is up for election. The election is important. It is this board that will choose and work with a new superintendent.
For all voters in the city there is a race for one at-large seat. Incumbent Eugene Kinlow is facing two challengers, Paul Burke and David H. Dabney. Mr. Kinlow is thoroughly familiar with the board's responsibilities and has worked with parents' organizations and other groups for increases in school budgets. His support for Superintendent Floretta McKenzie has been strong too. Mr. Burke, a newcomer in this arena, has waged a vigorous challenge and has a strong interest in the quality of teaching in the classrooms. Mr. Dabney's agenda is not sharply defined. Mr. Kinlow emerges the best candidate.
In Ward 1, incumbent Wilma Harvey's participation has hardly bowled over her colleagues on the board, but her lone opponent Edward Beasley's grasp of the issues falls short of an effective challenge.
In Ward 4, two-term incumbent Linda Cropp, a former District high school teacher and counselor, has clearly earned another term in her race against challenger Art Lloyd.
In Ward 5, incumbent Bettie Benjamin has completed 13 lackluster years on the board, and three people are seeking to replace her. The name to remember -- and the challenger to support if voters in this ward want more effective representation -- is Kathryn A. Pearson-West. A product of the D.C. schools, a graduate of Georgetown and Howard universities and a mother of two children in the city's public schools, she offers extensive civic and PTA experience and some good thoughts on what should be happening in the classrooms. These include making foreign language study mandatory in the elementary schools, creating model academic and other magnet schools and renovating existing buildings. Ward 6 and the board would be the better for the addition of Mrs. Pearson-West's energy and enthusiasm.
In Ward 6, Bob Boyd is running against five challengers, but his intelligent, dedicated service on the board should keep him in office. Mr. Boyd works hard on school business and works well with other members in reaching policy decisions.
In Ward 7, incumbent Nate Bush is challenged by three candidates, one of whom -- Herbert A. Boyd Jr. -- has waged a vigorous campaign. Mr. Boyd is well known in his ward and around the city and has spoken out strongly for higher salaries for teachers and administrators. But Mr. Boyd has failed to present a compelling case for ousting the knowledgeable incumbent.
Initiative 25 on this year's ballot is a bad way to make a good point -- and should be rejected. The proposal would establish in law that any money requests for the school system -- however large or small -- must have "the highest priority" in the city's budget considerations.
There is no question that stronger financial support of city schools is important, and that school money requests should get a thorough consideration in city hall. But inserting this kind of language in the law -- singling out one branch of the government for special attention over all others in the municipal budgeting process -- is not sound financial policy.