Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, through a representative, has acknowledged that it was an “oversight” that homeschooled students were barred from participating in her nationwide essay contest for high schoolers.

As WorldNetDaily reported, online rules for the contest stated, “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.”

Michael Smith, president of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA, had written 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.”

Though representatives of the show declined to change the rules before the deadline for submissions, Feb. 6, HSLDA has received a letter after the fact, as well as a phone call.

According to the homeschool organization, Tim Bennett, the President of Harpo Productions, called Smith to let him know the exclusion was an “oversight.” A written reply from Harpo recognized that “homeschooling is an important contributor to the educational success of this country.”

HSLDA says it “congratulates Oprah Winfrey for acknowledging that homeschooling is a viable educational alternative and entitled to equal treatment.”

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