VOTERS WHO care about the health of this city's public schools should know that they will have an opportunity to greatly strengthen the D.C. Board of Education Nov. 6. Five of the 11 board seats are up for election, and several promising candidates are worthy of strong support.

In Ward 8, the clear choice is Linda H. Moody, who is seeking to unseat veteran incumbent R. Calvin Lockridge. Mr. Lockridge has a record of irresponsible meddling in the Ward 8 schools and of wrongheaded votes on the board. Mrs. Moody is a former PTA president of Ballou High School, a founding member of the Parents United for the D.C. Schools support group and has a sincere interest in improving the schools in her ward.

In Ward 4, the 12-person race to succeed Linda Cropp, who is seeking a seat on the D.C. Council, has produced five strong candidates. But in our view, one is stronger than the others: Priscilla Arlene Gay, an active and dedicated parent who has served as PTA president at Shepherd Elementary, Deal Junior High and Wilson High School. Mrs. Gay supports the educational reforms suggested by the Committee on Public Education (COPE) and wants to and will work for a stronger school superintendent.

Eleven candidates are vying for the at-large seat vacated by retiring member Eugene Kinlow. Here, Jay Silberman deserves the nod over two successful graduates of the D.C. schools, Audrey C. Hipkins and Edward Sargent. Mr. Silberman, whose platform is "The Kids Come First," has the longest and strongest record of direct school system support. Mr. Silberman was a three-time president of Parents United, was a member of the COPE educational reform team, wants to tie teacher salaries to performance standards and would work to create more partnerships between local businesses and the schools.

In Ward 2, incumbent R. David Hall strongly deserves a chance to return to a leadership position on the school board, perhaps as its next president. He has a reputable challenger in Howard University professor Stella S. Gomes, but Mr. Hall is an experienced and stable board member who has launched several successful academic programs, and he has the support of several PTA presidents and teachers.

Nate Bush is the best choice for the Ward 7 seat -- with a caveat. The problem here is not Mr. Bush, the board member, but Mr. Bush, the board president. Mr. Bush has shown a lack of leadership in his handling of superintendent Andrew Jenkins and in waiting too long to launch a search for a new superintendent. He has had a better record of service as a regular board member and should continue in that former capacity.