The Portland Public Schools board voted unanimously Sept. 20 to rename the district headquarters, shifting the honor from one former superintendent, Robert Blanchard, to another, Blanchard’s successor in the position, the late Dr. Matthew Prophet Jr.
Prophet served as PPS’ first Black superintendent, holding the top job from 1982 to 1992. No subsequent superintendent has held the job as long.
Prophet, a retired Army officer, brought a rational, methodical approach to district management, strengthening the district’s finances, raising teacher pay dramatically and focusing on bringing a more equitable education for all children. The achievement gap between white and minority students narrowed under his leadership, although the gap persisted and remains a major challenge for PPS and other districts.
Last night, however, community members and former colleagues extolled Prophet’s achievements and character, and the board moved to change the name of the sprawling headquarters at 401 N Dixon St. The renaming was first reported by the Portland Tribune.
Prophet died in June at age 92.