GIVEN THE state of mind that permeates the District school board these days, the latest ramblings of its president, R. Calvin Lockridge about closing schools and busing children are at least consistent (unfortunately) with current patterns of irresponsibility. If there is any difference in this "initiative," it lies in the clumsiness of Mr. Lockridge's insult to the intelligence of residents who see nothing funny or helpful in this particular brand of race-baiting. Mr. Lockridge's own colleagues on the board were quick to take their distance from his "proposal" to close a bunch of schools in mostly white Ward 3 and bus students all around the rest of the city.

There is some comfort as well in the fact that this bait wasn't worth taking for any reason -- least of all financial economies or political mobilization of a lobby for better public schools. Even if the suggestion had been a serious one, it wouldn't hold up. Mr. Lockridge's portrayal of Ward 3 schools as underused havens for the children of privileged people who don't support the school system generally isn't borne out by the facts. Many of the facilities are as old and as fully used as any in the city, and the families they serve have joined with other active residents throughout the city in efforts to defend, finance and preserve the public schools.

What troubles more and more of the parents in every ward is precisely this kind of destructive political posturing that seems to emanate nonstop from the chambers of the school board. At a time when the city's public schools and its first-class superintendent need all the support they can get to provide a good education for all who seek it, Mr. Lockridge is abysmally failing them.