The nation’s leading advocate group for homeschooling has taken Oprah Winfrey to task for excluding homeschooled high-school students from an essay contest she is sponsoring.
“Contest open to all legal residents of the U.S. who are currently enrolled full-time (and in good standing) in a public or state-accredited private or parochial school, grades 9-12,” states the fine print on a page explaining the contest on Winfrey’s website.
Despite the restriction, a letter from Winfrey announcing the contest, which will judge essays on the book “Night,” says it is open “to high school students across America.”
Michael Smith, president of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA, wrote an open letter to Winfrey protesting the policy.
“We contacted your show to see if homeschoolers could be included and were rebuffed,” wrote Smith. “While we do not believe that your show willfully excluded homeschoolers, the fact that homeschoolers were excluded in the first place is troubling.”
Ian Slatter, a spokesman for HSLDA, told WND he spoke to an Oprah representative about the policy.
“We asked whether or not they could make an amendment to the rules to allow homeschoolers to participate, and they were not willing to do that,” Slatter said.
According to Slatter, the Oprah organization would not commit to allowing homeschooled students to participate in future contests.
“All the research shows that homeschooled students score well above the national average on standardized tests,” wrote Smith in his letter. “I’m confident that you would have received many excellent 1,000-word essays from homeschooled students answering the question ‘Why is the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel relevant today?’”
The deadline for essays to be submitted is Monday. Fifty finalists will participate in a taping of Winfrey’s show in late February.
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