In the unfolding drama of Desert Storm, it is natural that antiwar frustrations should come to the fore in our vibrant democracy. And Desert Storm has added a new dimension to antiwar rhetoric. This is evidenced by activists in Oakland, Calif., who convey the impression that schools are in some kind of evil business of "selling" to armed forces the names of graduating seniors {news story, Jan. 18}.

This characterization is wrong. Some school districts do charge a fee for producing lists of graduating seniors to potential employers as well as trade schools, colleges and universities. The fee is nominal and intended only to recover the district's out-of-pocket administrative costs.

Historically, school districts have viewed the military as a legitimate employer -- a view that is further buttressed by the fact that the United States has an all-volunteer force. Thus, the policy we recommend has been that local school boards provide information about graduating seniors to military recruiters on the same basis that they make it available to any other government or private employer.

Perhaps the larger lesson from the Oakland case is that, if a community wants to restrict who may obtain lists of graduating students from a school district, it is fitting that the decision be made by its elected school board as part of the democratic process of representative governance. In Oakland, it should be noted, the school board voted to remove our military forces as the recipient of such lists.

However, one might ask, where will it stop? Will future prohibitions include, for example, police and fire departments because service in those agencies also can lead to violent deaths? Or fast food companies because of the possibility of unhealthy diets leading to illness? Or companies that are accused of polluting the environment and thus also contribute to ill health?

MARTHA C. FRICKE President THOMAS A. SHANNON Executive Director, National School Boards Association Alexandria