The most recent issue of Time has an essay by Joel Stein about the Common Core requirements regarding nonfiction in the schools. He says that he has "found out that there are English teachers who assign my column as reading material."
When my sons were in the upper grades of elementary school and in middle school in the 90s, writing essays was being pushed big time in their schools, primarily just before the state mandated tests, which tested essay writing. To my knowledge, they never read essays at school. I saw nothing to even suggest they saw anything that would show them what an essay should be or make them want to read or write one.
I did, indeed, slip my sons the occasional Joel Stein column in those days. He could use a thesis statement and then continue writing about what he had told readers he was going to write about. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Then why doesn't every essay writer do it? On top of that, Stein is self-deprecating and witty without being cruel.
I'm not saying he's the perfect writing role model. But, seriously, the Gauthier boys could have done a whole lot worse.
And, yes, they can write.