I have a job working for the State of New York working with the Developmentally Disabled. The basic requirement for employment at my position is a High School diploma. I know one co-worker who actually speaks with pride that he has not read more than four books in his life. We have to write daily notes concerning our charges and I have seen the lack of basic competency when it comes to grammar, simple spelling or use of punctuation again and again. I have often said that if all that is required is a High School diploma, then applicants should take a standard GED test to prove their basic competency.
I totally agree with your position. The overwhelming ignorance that permeates much of our political discourse could be markedly alleviated with a required refresher course in American Civics.