No reasonable person could deny that 1990-91 is "A Crucial Year for City Schools" {editorial, July 26}. Certainly, each member of the D.C. Board of Education recognizes that in the coming academic year the board will confront an expanding set of troublesome issues with a set of resources that will, at best, remain static. The Post editorial suggested, however, that the board is such a "weak reed" that its only recourse in these critical circumstances is to look to the Committee on Public Education for guidance.

Pursuant to the laws of the District of Columbia, our school system functions under the direction of policies set by the board of education, not by any outside group created to fill an advisory function. The board's policies are implemented by the superintendent. The editorial ignores the fact that COPE only came into existence at the request of D.C. School Superintendent Andrew Jenkins, who sought "an independent assessment of {the system} and a specific long-range plan for the future" and "to increase public and private support for improvements to the public school system in the nation's capital," to quote an article in the Nov. 29, 1988, Post.

Appointed in November of 1988, COPE submitted to the board some 23 recommendations on matters ranging from early childhood programs through student discipline and in-service training to financing. Twenty of these were approved by the board of education on July 31, 1989. Upon their acceptance, these recommendations became the core of the board's action agenda.

I agree with my colleague Eugene Kinlow's assessment that "{t}he system is in a crisis that needs to be acted upon now." At such times as these, I remind myself that the Chinese character for crisis is formed by combining the characters for two other concepts: danger and opportunity.

In the wisdom of the board, with only one dissenting vote, it was determined that the best way to deal with the crisis alluded to in the editorial was to stabilize the situation and then to look for the door of opportunity, not that of danger. Having now reestablished stability through our decision to go forward with Superintendent Jenkins through the balance of his term, we have discovered the opportunity to join with him in planning for an orderly transition one year hence. DAVID H. EATON Vice President D.C. Board of Education Washington