Another Geography Bee Victory Reflects Quality of Home Schooling, Advocate Says

It pays to know your geography -- especially if you're 14-year-old James Williams.

The home-schooled teen from Vancouver, Washington, won the 15th Annual National Geographic Bee in the nation's capital this week. He captured the title by knowing that Goa in India is a former Portuguese colony.

Mike Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, says since 1997, five home schoolers have won either the National Geography Bee or the Spelling Bee.

"I think it reflect[s] the quality of education that's being provided to the young people who are being home schooled," Smith says. "Of course, these children are gifted -- there's no doubt about that. But they've taken their gift and they've honed it at home.

"They've been able to take their talent and probably spend a little bit more time on it at home -- but quite frankly, I'm sure all the competitors that got as far as the finals did the same thing."

Williams was among the five million children across the country who took part in local contests that whittled the field to 55 for the finals in Washington. Smith says Williams' specialized education sets him and other home schoolers apart from public school students.

"I think it's the type of instruction they get -- the [same] one-on-one, tutorial type of teaching that was the foundation of our early founding fathers," he says. "Obviously, Thomas Jefferson and the early presidents and the intellectuals of those days [and] the people who wrote our Constitution -- most of them were [either] tutored or taught by their parents."

Williams says being home-schooled is a big help because it gives him more time to focus on things he enjoys -- like studying geography. For winning, Williams was awarded a $25,000 scholarship and a lifetime subscription to National Geographic magazine.