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I think a Google for statistics regarding education and supposedly common knowledge may get you a start. I can't recall the details but one article stated the numbers or % data for various age groups and their knowledge of local, state and federal politicians. Very high numbers of certain groups didn't even know the name of their President or Prime Minister (for UK studies).
Be careful as there is a clear distinction between ignorance and lack of intelligence.
Perhaps you could look at geographical areas as there can be vast differences across urban or state borders. Does money play a role in the educational side? Are there cultural barriers that prevent learning? And what really is ignorance - I know a lot about many topics but I admit to a great lack of street smarts.
One area of intellectual idiocy comes from a refusal by some groups to look at scientific evidence so they base their 'knowledge' of some things on faith. Religions have oppressed the sciences for many thousands of years even after being proven wrong time and again.
Can you give details about the course so I can give further thought to this.
Apparently, your thesis is: "Americans are ignorant and intellectually idiotic". I would agree that you need a valid thesis. "In todays era" is superfluous as you are using the present tense "are". "Ignorant" and "idiotic" are ambiguous terms that need to be clarified or removed from your "thesis". They are also emotionally charged words that distract readers and listeners from relevant features of your argument.