Going Deep on the 

– Business Plan – 

The AlgebraVictory Story and Our Team

The AlgebraVictory! story began more than 50 years ago when Mark started tutoring algebra while he was in the tenth grade. 25 years later, the story became interwoven with another story: AngelBase, which is a new database technology. (The name AngelBase is going to be changed, but the new name has not yet been announced.) The story has three parts:

Part One 1966–1993 Developing highly successful algebra teaching and tutoring methodologies; attempting to create a software system to teach algebra
Part Two 1994–2019 Developing AngelBase and other projects (mostly inactive on algebra)
Part Three 2019–2021 Building the online AlgebraVictory! system (temporarily inactive on AngelBase)

Story Part One (1966–1993):
Developing highly successful algebra teaching and tutoring methodologies; attempting to create a software system to teach algebra.

Mark discovered while in high school that he has an extraordinary gift for teaching. While in the twelfth grade at Palisades High School, he decided he wanted to be a high school teacher—a goal he maintained through his undergraduate years at UCLA, and in his graduate year obtaining his Secondary Teaching Credential. Throughout high school and UCLA, he tutored extensively in math (primarily algebra and geometry), chemistry, physics and logic.

Nobody taught Mark to teach. (The UCLA teaching credential program was a joke, but was the “price of admission” for public school teaching.) Inspired by his best teachers—especially Bill Layton at Pali High (physics) and Don Kalish at UCLA (logic)—Mark figured out how to teach all by himself.

While tutoring, Mark carefully observed what worked and what didn’t work. If the student understands and can do the problems, and expresses satisfaction or happiness about it, then the teaching method works. In contrast, if students don’t get it, or they say they understand but can’t do the problems, then it doesn’t work.

There is a longstanding tendency among educators to inappropriately blame students for failing to learn. Students are accused of not paying attention (during a boring class), not doing the work (that they don’t understand how to do), and, far worse, being mentally deficient or “stupid” in the subject area (or generally). Such accusations often have adverse, long-term, emotional impacts on students.

Mark’s attitude has always been the exact opposite: if the student doesn’t learn the material, it is he, the teacher, who has failed! Through thousands of cycles of experimentation while tutoring kids (and some adults) with a wide range of ability levels, he developed a keen intuition for which approaches will work and which will fail. (Far too many of the teaching methods used in algebra classes today do not work very well.) Pouring his whole mind and heart into his teaching work, Mark gradually developed systematic methods of teaching algebra and geometry that are highly effective. And he keeps refining and improving them.

After getting his teaching credential, Mark got a job at University High School in West Los Angeles teaching chemistry. He had extensive experience tutoring chemistry (albeit less than algebra and geometry), and when he used the methods he developed while tutoring in front of an entire class, they worked. Additionally, Mark spent a tremendous amount of time preparing demonstrations and labs. His lectures were punctuated with lots of chemical demonstrations, almost like a magic show. His students loved him. Occasionally, students would arrive bundled up and tell him they were taking the day off school because they were sick but could not miss his class.

Unfortunately, after just one year of teaching chemistry, and before he had a chance to attain tenure, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) dismissed Mark from his teaching position. He was notified that the reason for his dismissal was that affirmative action required LAUSD to replace him with a person of a different race. He was, however, allowed to work as a substitute teacher, which proved to be a financial boon for him.

Substitute teaching in an algebra or geometry class, Mark would ask the students, “Do you guys understand what’s going on in this class? Raise your hand if you understand the math.” The students usually appeared astonished that any teacher, let alone a substitute, would ask such a question. Typically, two or three students would raise their hands.

Mark would then ask, “How many of you would LIKE to understand what’s happening in this class?” EVERY hand would go up. Then he would ask, “Would you like me to teach it to you?” Again, EVERY hand would go up.

Mark would then give a powerful lecture that precisely explained the material, including any necessary preliminary material. He would answer questions. Lively discussions would happen. Soon, some kid would exclaim, “My God! We learned more from you today than we learned in this entire class!” And the other students would agree with that. Then, they would invariably ask, “Can you be our regular teacher?” (Little did they know the political and institutional reality that precluded such a possibility.)

In response, Mark would say, “I wish I could be your teacher, but I can’t. However, I can TUTOR you. If you would like my business card, you can come up and get one from me.” Numerous kids would come up and take his card. (Mark never passed out his cards—he only handed them to kids who requested them.)

Mark’s phone rang and rang! Parents clamored to get their kids into Mark’s tutoring schedule. So… he was substitute teaching weekday mornings and early afternoons (and getting paid to do his own marketing). Then, from about 4 pm to 11 pm on weekdays, and all day on Saturday and Sunday, he was tutoring students in his home office.

Some math teachers resented him. Others were in awe of him. A few teachers even admitted to his Mark’s face (when they saw him on campus substituting for other teachers) that, after he substituted for their classes, their students understood everything much better!

The most brilliant student Mark ever had was an eighth grader named Chuck, who was having difficulty in algebra. Mark fixed that problem quickly and then commenced teaching Chuck college level logic. Today, Chuck is a member of the AlgebraVictory! team.

Yet, Mark did not want to be either a substitute teacher or a tutor. He wanted to be the teacher, and also (very importantly) the author of the text materials. He became exasperated with the public-school system. So, in 1979 he created his own private school and offered summer school classes in algebra and geometry. Chuck was a second-year algebra student in that program. Mark repeated it in the summer of 1980. These summer math classes were resounding successes, as indicated by the student comments on this site. Mark employed staff to assist him in these classes, and one such person was Chuck.

But when Mark attempted to launch a full-year school, he failed to obtain sufficient enrollments, and after a financial disaster with just a few students, he got a job as a software engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company. And he resumed tutoring.

In the mid-1980s, Mark developed a new vision for his math teaching: to create a software system that mimics his teaching. He programmed a small, test component to teach factoring non-trivial quadratic trinomials. Several of his tutoring students tried it, and it worked! They all said, “Mark, it feels like you are teaching me.”

But he soon got overwhelmed by major technical and business obstacles to developing and marketing a full-blown algebra teaching system. One of those obstacles was the need for a suitable database technology on which to build the algebra system, which did not exist.

Mark has three sons, and he wanted them to learn algebra and geometry from him. In 1989 when his eldest son, David, was 10, Mark set up a classroom in his garage, and commenced teaching first-year algebra lessons two evenings per week to David and seven other kids. He taught them geometry the following year. At this time, Mark did a major re-write of his text materials. Then, in 1991, Mark negotiated a deal with Crossroads School in Santa Monica to create the Crossroads Extension program wherein he taught evening algebra and then geometry classes that carried its accreditation. His second son Greg took both. Unfortunately, for personal reasons, Mark had to end the program in 1993, and his youngest son, Jonathan, never got to participate. But Jonathan is deeply brilliant, had a good math teacher in middle school, and his dad was always there for him. Jonathan is a member of the AlgebraVictory! team.

Mark’s various offerings of private math classes required him to fight with LAUSD regarding transferability of student credit. He appeared before the LAUSD Board of Education and had numerous meetings with deputy superintendents, other high-level District officials as well as school principals, often bringing parents of his students with him. LAUSD showed zero interest in Mark’s extraordinarily effective math teaching methods—their interest was in resisting the transfer of credit from his programs. Under pressure from Mark and the parents, LAUSD officials reluctantly allowed credit to transfer, but only for students who, at the time, had completed the courses. They refused to grant, in advance, the transferability of Mark’s future course offerings unless they were accredited. That is what prompted Mark to create Crossroads Extension, which was accredited. But then, LAUSD threw up an insane obstacle—they claimed that, even though LAUSD students would get Crossroads credit for Mark’s evening math classes, they would have to enroll in a duplicative math class during their school day! This prompted another battle with LAUSD officials, who seemed far more concerned with exerting power over students and parents than with the quality of education their students were receiving.

After ending Crossroads Extension in 1993, Mark did not teach for nearly three decades, until now in 2020.

Story Part Two (1994–2019):
Developing AngelBase and other projects (mostly inactive on algebra)

As stated above, the biggest technical obstacle to creating Mark’s envisioned software system to teach algebra was the lack of an appropriate database technology. Mark embarked upon a long-term project to create the needed database technology, which he named AngelBase. In 1995, he raised funds from investors, quit his job at Hughes, and attempted to launch a high-tech company to develop and market AngelBase. Chuck (who by then was an adult and a seasoned information technology expert) read Mark’s technical treatise on AngelBase and wrote a powerful letter of endorsement. But Mark encountered overwhelming obstacles that caused extensive delays.

In 2000, Mark returned briefly to the algebra system project and made another attempt to move forward. By then (unlike in the mid-1980s), Internet browsers had come into existence, and he envisioned using the Internet to teach algebra. He named his algebra system AlgebraVictory!, and his geometry system GeometryPower, and he developed the concepts needed to teach algebra online. He also filed a provisional patent application entitled, Rigorous Educational Technology. Unfortunately, in mid-2000, he got severely attacked in another area of his life and was forced to stop.

Mark is self-taught in the law, and beginning in 2005, he commenced doing litigation consulting work for attorneys, researching and drafting pleadings, motions, discovery and appellate briefs. This work paid better than tutoring.

From 2001–2013, gradual progress was made on AngelBase. David and Jonathan joined Mark in these efforts. Then, in 2014, AngelBase received an investment of one million dollars (via the same kind of hearts system as is offered here, for which the investor took a tax deduction). Mark, Jonathan, David and others worked very hard on AngelBase, and significant progress was made. But the database landscape has changed hugely, and great difficulty arose in how to complete the technical development and how to position AngelBase in the vast DB marketplace. Mark attempted to raise additional funds, and did obtain several small investments in AngelBase, but they were insufficient. David left the project and is now a senior software engineer at Microsoft. 

The bottom line for AngelBase is that no product yet exists. New vision is needed to move forward.

Then, in May 2019, Chuck contacted Mark out of the blue. Having (by then) spent several decades in the software industry, Chuck has deep insights about how to revive AngelBase. He joined the AngelBase team. Nevertheless, it will still take at least two more years to release an AngelBase product. Jonathan commenced working directly with Chuck on AngelBase, with Chuck splitting his time between AngelBase and his software clients.

Story Part Three (October 2019–2021):
Building the online AlgebraVictory! system

Mark had believed for decades that AlgebraVictory! would be implemented in AngelBase. Hence, be believed he would not be in a position to build AlgebraVictory! until AngelBase (a) was technologically ready for that, and (b) producing revenues sufficient to support development of AlgebraVictory!.

On September 25, 2019, Chuck surprised Mark with a proposal that completely shifted Mark’s longstanding belief. Chuck proposed moving forward with AlgebraVictory!, even though AngelBase is not yet ready to support it. Specifically, he proposed: 

1

That we develop an initial, simplified version of AlgebraVictory! (“AV Version 1”), based on existing database and Internet technology, consisting of videos that capture Mark teaching algebra. He suggested that he and Jonathan, together with his web-designer friend Roger, build the production website.

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That we market AV Version 1 to homeschoolers, thereby avoiding the politics and complexities of the educational establishment. He recommended his friend Terri as our lead marketer. She has extensive connections into the homeschool market.

 

 

Intense brainstorming ensued. It was decided that Mark would create the videos in a format wherein he tutors just one student. He set up a two-camera video studio in his living room in Los Angeles. Then he created an audition flyer and distributed it to parents who were picking their kids up from local middle schools. A 13-year-old girl got the part, accompanied and supervised by her father. Shooting began in December 2019.

Progress went slower than anticipated, largely due to Mark rewriting and restructuring the lessons. The girl responded and performed very well. Much was learned, and various mistakes were made. However, after shooting 40 lessons, the father canceled the arrangement.

Mark took this as an opportunity to redo and further upgrade the lessons, and to exit from California. In June 2021, he moved to Texas, where he now lives just north of Austin. Chuck and Jonathan hold weekly project meetings in his living room. Shooting of the upgraded lessons will begin in August 2021, but this time Mark will appear by himself on camera and face the front camera much of the time to address the online students.

The AlgebraVictory! team

Mark

Mark

CEO, Master Teacher

Mark holds a B.A. (Magna cum Laude) in Mathematics and a Secondary Teaching Credential, both from UCLA. He also took substantial course work in Physics, Chemistry, Music, Theater Arts and Business. He is a Renaissance Man who, for his entire life, has thought far outside “the box.” He is a maverick who has suffered much abuse from people emotionally triggered by his ideas. Indeed, AlgebraVictory! itself is a bold, “maverick” idea that defies the Educational Establishment.Mark’s career has spanned many fields, including teaching, tutoring, founding a private school, musical theater leadership, software engineering, computer science, sale of financial instruments, entrepreneurship, writing, spirituality, law and political activism. But his first love is teaching, especially algebra, geometry and logic. And he loves kids.

Mark is a Christian, who also embraces Hinduism, Buddhism and non-religious spirituality. In John 13:35 Jesus precisely defines who his disciples are, to wit: those who obey his commandment to “love one another.” Mark loves everyone unconditionally and hence is a disciple of Jesus, and thus a true Christian. Mark is also an ordained minister. His longtime spiritual practices include several forms of meditation, yoga, yogic breathing, chanting and prayer. Ironically, he was raised an atheist, but when he was studying advanced mathematics at UCLA, he began to experience God in the math, and that was the beginning of his spiritual journey. He gives students glimpses of this in AlgebraVictory! (see the subsections entitled Algebra is Holistic and Algebra Is Magical here). In 2013 Mark published a series of videos called The G Proof, in which he presents a rigorous mathematical proof that God exists (after first teaching the mathematics needed to understand the proof).

Chuck

Chuck

Production Website & Software Development Lead

Chuck has 30 years experience designing, developing, delivering and maintaining high quality, reliable software. He has delivered systems for numerous companies and government agencies in the fields of health care, telecommunications, marketing, finance, business integration, music and education. In doing so, he has managed technical teams of up to six people, including remotely. His technical expertise spans a lengthy, alphabet-soup list of programming and scripting languages, operating systems, databases, and tools for networking, security, code-control and system administration. He’s a full-stack web developer well-acquainted with the tools with which AlgebraVictory! will be built for global delivery. Chuck also knows how Mark teaches math, because back when he was a teen, he was Mark’s student. He went on to study physics at UC Berkeley; his other interests include markets, art, history, and metaphysics.
Jonathan

Jonathan

Production Website & Software Development

Jonathan is a relentless perfectionist and religious purist who prefers philosophical abstraction to earthly mundanity. He learned basic programming skills from his father (Mark) at the age of 5, via a simple computer game his dad wrote. Later he took a particular interest in puzzles, such as cryptograms and logic puzzles. At age 16, these and other influences led him to study logic and the foundation of mathematics at UCLA. Having attained therein the pinnacle of academia within one year of study, his curiosity drove him to AngelBase in order to address the hard problem of how to make software development and the user experience more intuitive and accessible to the general public. Having spent most of two decades on this topic, he firmly believes that effective math education is the real key to solve the problem: starting with AlgebraVictory!.
Roger

Roger

Production Website & User Experience Design

Roger’s creative talents emerged when he was a young boy. Always drawing, he found a love in artistic design and illustration that’s never left him. He has 35+ years of experience in the graphic design and web development arena. Prior to forming his current company in 2006, Roger’s experience included operations of his own design services business; his role as design director for web development projects at other firms; and various roles on design teams of major corporations in California. His current company is now in its 14th year assisting clients across the U.S. with a full suite of creative services.

Terri

Marketing, Home School Outreach

Terri is a homeschool mother of 10 children, founder of two grassroots organizations that advocate for taxpayers and property rights in both the Texas Capitol and Washington D.C., and she’s the CEO of the family business, a graphic design and web development company. Keeping lots of balls in the air is her forte. She thrives when helping others, whether through community service or helping others achieve their goals — Terri likes to be in the thick of the action. So it’s not surprising she also has a knack for holding politicians accountable, which makes her feared in political circles. She has extensive homeschool contacts throughout Texas and nationwide. Public speaking, project management, goal setting, and training are part of her repertoire, but writing, editing, and making her kids laugh with camp songs and silly skits are second nature and where she’s really at home.

Explore the other “Go Deep” pages…

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1

The Story

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2

The Market

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3

The Competition

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4

The Money

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5

Legal Notice

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