We had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Falguni Patel, “Fal” as friends call her, who is running for the Board of Education (BOE) position in Edison Township. My first impression of Fal is that she is warm, friendly, soft-spoken person who deeply believes making a difference in education and children’s lives.
Falguni, please tell me about this election?
Please call me Fal. I am running for the Board of Education (BOE) position in Edison Township. Voters will be selecting four (4) board members from a field of eleven (11) candidates on Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 – three for 3-year term and one for 1-year term. I am running with 3 other amazingly qualified team members for a these are: Mr. Jingwei (Jerry) Shi (column H-3) re-election, 3-year term; myself (column H-5) 3-year term; Ms. Beth Moroney (column H-7) re-election, 3-year term; Mr. Paul Distefano (column H-10) re-election, 1-year term. I am requesting voters to vote Column H for me and other candidates on my team as mentioned earlier.
What are the most pressing issues for BOE in this election?
There are several and I plan to work with the BOE team to address all these:
Overcrowding: This will require creative ideas, open communications and dialog between diverse communities to adopt creative solutions.
School infrastructure: We need to extend existing school, identify, fix, replace or add as needed Air conditioner, additional fields, etc.
Addressing growth: There are ways to address this, potentially redistricting to distribute the load evenly, add new schools or additions to existing schools. I will work hard with the BOE, Township leadership, parents and teachers to achieve that.
What attracted you to pursue candidacy for BOE position?
Growing up, education was very important in my parents’ home and they instilled in me the value of education from early childhood. I believe that our public school system is the very backbone of our society and country and we need to continue strengthening it. With my higher education background, I feel I have a well-rounded view point and I am suitable to make a difference at BOE in making the right decisions.
Can you share more about your educational background and how it will help you in BOE position?
I have always valued education. My parents, teachers and above all the NJ school system in general had a lot to do with where I am today. Early successes from elementary to middle to high school led me to pursuing my undergraduate in Psychology and Political Science at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. After that I pursued my law degree at Western New England University, Springfield, MA in 2010. My educational background and experiences provide for a unique perspective on where education is and where the educational industry is potentially heading.
Which area of law do you practice and how will that help you in BOE?
At Law school, I was attracted to Corporate and Immigration Law and that is what I am practicing today as an attorney since 2010. Being a corporate attorney, I help my clients oversee, negotiate and contest all kinds of agreements. Being a BOE board member for Edison Township with such a large multi-million dollar budget, as a practicing corporate attorney, I will bring same rigor to the BOE position as well for the benefit of Edison parents and children. I will be a tremendous asset to the board and above all to Edison Township.
What about your other involvements outside of work?
I am an avid advocate for Women and Children – this will also be a huge asset because BOE members have to make critical decisions keeping children and parents issues in mind. I have been community organizer and active volunteer in multiple non-profit organizations. In the last elections, I was elected to a Committeewoman position in Edison District 53. I am an active member of MA Bar Association.
Can you mention anything other unique things about you that would be of interest to voters?
Edison Township is one of New Jersey’s towns with the largest South Asian population – with the result that almost 40% of the school going children is of South Asian background. As an Indian American female who was born raised and schooled in New Jersey, I understand firsthand both the American and the Indian American perspective on what it is like to be in an American school system. One can read about it but can’t substitute what I have experienced myself; I can personally relate. It is important to have BOE board members that bring that experience, perspective, know-how and will to make decisions that are in-line with children and parents’ needs, I will be that person.
What do you think is the most critical issue currently facing our Schools?
Although others see our unique school system challenges negatively, I see the upside and unique opportunity for us to address creatively the challenges while we continue to maintain the higher standard we have come to live with recently. The impact has been positive:
Edison school system is ranked among some of the best, not just in NJ but also in the country.
Edison Township was recently ranked 19 best places to live by Time Magazine and the bulk of the credit goes to Edison School system.
Housing property values have continued to rise, giving economic benefits to township residents
More and more families want to move in to Edison Township.
Once elected, how would you envision your role as a BOE member?
I do believe that a BOE board member should interact with following members of the community as follows:
School Students: It is important to focus on what is best for all the students’ achievements and implementing policies that will ensure success for all, to the best of their abilities, in a safe and supportive environment.
Parents: To openly discuss and review parents’ concerns and ideas at the board.
Staff: To support public education at all levels: local, state and national.
Fellow BOE members: To work well and respect fellow board members in developing creative and practical ideas.
Community: To keep open communications with the community through dialog and debate.
Thank you Fal for your precious time answering my questions which should help voters.
Well, thank you for your precious time and thanks for bringing this information to my voters so they can make their informed decisions on Tuesday, Nov 7, 2017. I would like to request voters to vote Column H for me and my team as mentioned earlier, which is: Mr. Jingwei (Jerry) Shi (column H-3) re-election, 3-year term; myself (column H-5) 3-year term; Ms. Beth Moroney (column H-7) re-election, 3-year term; Mr. Paul Distefano (column H-10) re-election, 1-year term.