A congressional panel urged educators Wednesday to lengthen school hours and open school buildings for civic needs so students can be better prepared for a highly technical and competitive workplace.

"We've known for some time that our nation's education system is in serious trouble," said Rep. James Scheuer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Subcommittee on Education and Health of the Joint Economic Committee."One in every four students drops out before completing high school. Millions of Americans cannot read, write or count," he said. "Many more have skills so limited they cannot read a map or follow written instructions."