Bob Hamilton 65, is a retired biology teacher and high school principal from Carlisle, Pa. He works six months a year in Big Bend and five more in Yellowstone.
I ask him where he was principal. He says York. I ask what school. He says Dover.
My eyes must’ve been wide as dinner plates. My insides roiled with barely contained glee.
My unexpressed response: No shit!
What I say: “The infamous Dover High School?”
That’s this Dover, the school district in Pennsylvania where creationists pressured the local Board of Education to introduce “Intelligent Design” into the high school biology curriculum in January 2005. Parents sued the Board, which subsequently got its collective ass handed to it in court. The judge’s 139-page opinion on the case called the change in curriculum “breathtakingly inane,” for instance.
Apparently, the inanity was taking people’s breaths for a few years before 2005:
Hamilton, who retired as principal of Dover High School in 2002, stood on the ground floor of Dover’s Intelligent Design era. He saw the storm brewing.
“Don’t quote me on this, but I knew that board was going to get us in trouble,” he said.
There was no doubt I was going to quote him on this. I think he realized this. I hope so, anyway.
“There are great kids in the community,” he says. “The kids in the community in no way reflect the ideas coming out of that school board. None of those people had any connection to the kids.”
According to Hamilton, then-school board president Donald “Daddy” Bonsell used to haunt his office and harangue him on behalf of the burgeoning wingnut conspiracy. Bonsell badgered Hamilton to do his part to get Intelligent Design into the Dover curriculum.
“He came in one day, and finally I told him, ‘OK, I’ll put Intelligent Design into the curriculum … if you start a petition and get all the local ministers in the community to sign it saying they’ll allow the teaching of evolution in Sunday school,’” Hamilton says.
I like the fact that this guy “retired” by continuing to teach kids about science on the National Park Service’s dime. Good for him.