THE RACE for the Ward 8 seat on the D.C. Board of Education deserves a special focus. No ward needs more academic attention and -- the connection is hardly coincidental -- no ward has poorer representation on the school board. The challenger, former Ballou High School and Simon School PTA president Linda H. Moody, clearly represents the ward's best hope to improve its public education. The incumbent seeking reelection, R. Calvin Lockridge, has held back the ward's schools and even wrought harm.

During his 12-year tenure, Mr. Lockridge: launched a race-baiting proposal to close some Ward 3 schools and bus their students all over the city, was one of only two board members voting against creation of a model academic high school, was the only board member to oppose a summer program for 7,000 students to help them pass on to the next grade and was the board member who gave the lowest evaluation to Floretta McKenzie, a recent and respected superintendent.

For all of this, Mr. Lockridge's most destructive actions have been reserved for the schools in his ward. His constant meddling in principal and teacher appointments resulted in a development unique in the annals of the D.C. School Board. In 1988, according to the accrediting Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Mr. Lockridge's "interference" was a "critical problem" at Ballou High School that undermined "the well-being of the staff and administration," resulting in the school's obtaining accreditation only for three years instead of the usual 10.

Mrs. Moody has been a horrified witness to this meddling. "Morale in our schools is very low, and we're tired of it," she says. She wants the next superintendent to establish clear performance standards for teachers and principals. On at least one day a year, she would ask parents to perform a school volunteer task, and she intends to negotiate more partnerships between local businesses and Ward 8 schools. Mrs. Moody is a founding member of Parents United for the D.C. Schools and of the Washington Parent Group Fund and a strong supporter of the Committee on Public Education, the panel of civic leaders who have produced a blueprint to improve the system.

If she were running in a broad field of able candidates, Mrs. Moody would be a good choice. Running as Mr. Lockridge's only challenger, she is a desperately needed new face. We strongly endorse her for the Ward 8 seat.