Here's some sobering information: According to a National Election Study, 25 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 could not identify Dick Cheney as vice president of the United States, and 63 percent of them could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
That might be because 80 percent of the younger set in America does not own a world map and therefore 90 percent of them could not find Afghanistan, either.
In the face of that depressing situation, the state of California is taking action. Earlier this month, the state Senate voted 22 to 15 to prohibit textbooks or instructional materials that ''contain any matter that reflects adversely'' on persons because of their ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality, sexual orientation or religion.
In addition, the proposed law would mandate textbooks include the study of ''people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (and who have contributed) to the economic, political and social development of California and the United States of America.''
In other words, California kids might soon be studying Gay 101.
Even liberal newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee think this legislation is dopey. The Times lamenting that books would recount history in part through a gay and lesbian ''prism.''
The educational madness in California is part of a secular strategy to de-emphasize academic discipline in the classroom and replace it with an imposed worldview of tolerance and diversity. No longer are facts the primary focus in many public school lesson plans. Now, it's not what you know, it's how tolerant you are.
As a result, 10 percent of California high school seniors cannot pass a statewide exit exam that requires just 60 percent of the questions be answered correctly. And the student gets six tries to pass the test. Talk about tolerance.
But don't fret. A California judge, Robert Freedman, ruled the test unconstitutional because all schools are not equal, and therefore, in Freedman's view, the test is unfair to some students.
Since it is impossible for schools to be equal - there always will be variables like the proficiency of teachers and principals - that would mean every standardized test would flunk constitutional muster. Thankfully, the California Supreme Court recognized Freedman's lunacy and overturned his decision this week.
But Freedman and his supporters are not going to go quietly into the night. The future of America's public schools may well involve deep-sixing academics and creating a student body nourished on the achievements of homosexuals and other minorities. Was Columbus gay? If not, some California kids might never know who discovered America.
The left continues to scream about the great economic divide between wealthy Americans and everybody else. Do you think this insane school situation is going to cure that? Many affluent parents will take one look at the California public school landscape and immediately put their kid into private school. There, he or she will be forced to learn the three R's instead of the three T's: Tolerance, Totalitarianism and Total Failure.
Thus, 10 years from now, we'll have adults who know all about Liberace, but can't count. Meantime, the private school graduates will be counting all their money.
I'm sorry if this column doesn't sound tolerant. I want all good people to be respected in America. But the ''progressive'' forces running California are creating an army of young Americans that will not be able to compete in the worldwide marketplace. And that is absolutely the straight story.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His column appears on Friday. His "Radio Factor" can be heard weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.