New York’s Education Department is about to be flooded with classroom videotapes from thousands of teachers who must submit them to get their permanent certification.

The videotaping requirement was established in 1993, but teachers were given five years to be certified permanently, so this spring is the first real deadline for the tapes.

The requirement–which is the only one of its kind in the nation–has the support of New York State United Teachers, the state’s largest teacher union. But it hasn’t won favor with a lot of local teachers, some of whom have been having themselves taped–and retaped–as they have taught their classes.

“This is sort of certification by remote control,” said Kate McKenna, president of the Syracuse Teachers Association. “It’s an interesting concept, and I think it’s a good learning tool for teachers. But I’m not sure what it says about you over the long haul.”

Edith Hunsberger, an associate in professional examination development for the state Education Department, said each videotape will be carefully reviewed by two permanently certified teachers hired during the summer by National Evaluation Systems, a private company contracted by the state. Failing tapes will be reviewed a third time by the state’s Teacher Education Certification and Practice Board. A $145 fee for each tape submitted pays the cost of the program.

Hunsberger acknowledged that the tapes will represent “a best sample” of a teacher’s work and that few teachers will be denied certification because of poor videotapes.

Indeed, of 492 teachers who submitted their tapes early during the last school year, 97 percent passed. “It sounds like a very low failure rate, but ideally no one should fail,” Hunsberger said.

Even if teachers fail the first time around, they can try again as many times as they want–as long as they submit that $145 fee with each tape.