09/14/2012 03:32 pm ET

Table Talk: The Chicago Teachers Strike

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 13: Courtney Makinen, a preschool teacher, pickets outside Burr Elementary School on September 13, 20
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 13: Courtney Makinen, a preschool teacher, pickets outside Burr Elementary School on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

This week, more than 350,000 Chicago students couldn’t attend school because of a massive teacher strike -- the city’s first in a quarter of a century.

A strike occurs when a group stops working to protest workplace conditions they think are unfair. In this case, the 26,000 teachers involved are striking for a number of reasons -- including desired pay raises and changes to rules about how they will be evaluated.

With their teachers on the picket lines, what have kids been doing all day? While there are some centers around the city offering free food and supervision, The New York Times reports that less than 10 percent of students were taking advantage of these facilities earlier in the week, which means many kids were either staying home or spending their days off with family members. And even though a couple of extra days without school might not seem like too much of a big deal, parents are starting to worry that their children will ultimately lose educational ground on account of all the missed class time.

As of early Friday afternoon, the strike wasn't over yet. While students may not be participating in English, science or math classes this week, some have probably picked up real-life lessons about what happens when people decide to demand change in the workplace.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you think teachers should be paid more?
  • Who else has an important job that is underpaid?
  • How would you feel if your teachers decided to strike?
  • Who is your favorite teacher, and why?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.